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DeSantis Defends COVID Record, Needling Critics: ‘The Lockdown States Got It Wrong’

Florida governor Ron DeSantis defended his state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in a Friday morning speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

DeSantis was the first elected official to speak to the conference, which is being held in Orlando, Fla., this year. Since the end of a summer surge in coronavirus cases, the state forbade local officials from shutting down businesses entirely and kept schools open for in-person learning where requested by parents.

“We are stronger as a state and much happier as a people. . . . Florida has lower per-capita COVID mortality than the national average, and lower than 27 other states,” DeSantis said. “Our unemployment rate is lower than the national average even though tourism isn’t fully back, and our budget is in great shape.”

The governor added, “Florida got it right, and the lockdown states got it wrong.” Earlier in his speech, DeSantis described Florida as “an oasis of freedom in a nation that’s suffering from the yoke of oppressive lockdowns.”

Florida’s death rate from coronavirus is roughly 141 per 100,000 people, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Over 30,000 residents in total have died of the illness since the pandemic began.

CPAC will continue into Sunday afternoon, when former President Trump is scheduled to deliver his first public speech since leaving office. Former Vice President Mike Pence reportedly declined to speak at the conference, citing Trump’s failure to prevent a mob of his supporters from storming the Capitol in early January.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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