You’ve heard and seen Gov. Ron DeSantis’ name constantly the last week.
It’s to be expected. He’s the governor of the nation’s third-largest state in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. But still, it’s not just the eyes of those in Florida who are paying attention to DeSantis — it’s the entire nation.
We understand if you haven’t been able to keep up with all of the headlines, so we made this list of some of our most popular stories involving DeSantis — from his decision to finally shut down the state after it had over 7,000 coronavirus cases, to the birth of his third child.
Let’s start with the controversial.
Times/Herald reporter barred from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ news conference
A reporter from the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald was denied access to a news conference by DeSantis on Saturday, where he discussed the state’s latest efforts to contain the coronavirus.
Aides to the governor said they blocked the reporter, Mary Ellen Klas, from entering because she had requested that future news conferences follow social distancing precautions for reporters.
Klas wasn’t alone. Editors at the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and other news organizations, had made similar requests. Yet on Satuday, Klas was the only reporter barred from attending the news conference.
The exclusion sparked heavy backlash, both online and in opinion pieces across the nation and state, including Times’ columnist John Romano, who wrote a column that criticized the governor and his aides over the incident.
A reason why Florida hasn’t shut down? Nobody from White House task force said so, DeSantis says.
This headline is from Wednesday morning, just a few hours before DeSantis finally issued a state-wide shutdown.
It was long overdue in the eyes of many.
While reporters constantly asked him why he wouldn’t shut down the state despite having the sixth-most cases among states, DeSantis said he had no plans to issue a statewide stay-at-home order in part because he hadn’t been told to do so by the White House task force.
“I’m in contact with (the White House task force) and I’ve said, are you recommending (a shutdown)?’ DeSantis said. “The task force has not recommended that to me. If they do, obviously that would be something that carries a lot of weight with me. If any of those task force folks tell me that we should do X, Y or Z, of course we’re going to consider it. But nobody has said that to me thus far.”
That deference to the White House was later applauded by President Donald Trump, a close political ally.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and wife, Casey, announce birth of 3rd child
Not every news story about DeSantis has been controversial.
The governor’s wife, Casey DeSantis, had her and Ron’s third baby over the weekend. The baby is a girl and is named Mamie, Casey wrote in a Facebook post.
“Ron and I are beyond blessed to welcome our new baby girl, Mamie to the world,’’ Casey DeSantis wrote in a Tweet on Monday morning. “At 7 lbs 4 oz she was the smallest of the bunch, but she is already holding her own. Madison and Mason are so excited for their new baby sister!”
The couple kept the news of the baby’s birth quiet but friends said it was a planned delivery at a Jacksonville hospital last Thursday, when the governor had an appearance at a mobile testing site in Duval County but had no other public appearances that day.
Ron DeSantis was warned about Florida’s broken unemployment website last year, audit shows
State auditors warned Gov. Ron DeSantis last year that Florida’s unemployment website was still suffering major problems, including glitches, error messages and other problems that thousands of Floridians are now experiencing.
In a damning 2019 report, auditors found that they had flagged all of the problems with the website in previous audits going back to 2015 — yet state officials had not made a serious attempt to fix them.
The consequences for delaying the fixes will be severe. The unreliable system is failing under an unprecedented crush of unemployment claims because of the coronavirus, and many Floridians are unable to apply because the site keeps crashing.
If Florida can’t get its website fixed, the hundreds of thousands of Floridians thrown out of work could, at the least, be forced to wait weeks for unemployment relief because they’re unable to apply for them on Florida’s website.
Ron DeSantis quietly signed a second executive order targeting local coronavirus restrictions
Hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday, he quietly signed another one that overrides restrictions put in place by local governments to halt the spread of coronavirus.
The second order requires that new state guidelines taking effect Friday morning “shall supersede any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19.” In other words, local governments cannot place any limitations that would be more strict than the statewide guidelines.
Locally, it means Hillsborough County cannot mandate churches close their doors, a rule that drew national attention and the ire of the local Republican Party after Tampa megachurch The River of Tampa Bay held two Sunday services, leading to the arrest of pastor Rodney Howard-Browne.
The follow-up action was taken to “provide clarity,” the order says. In practice, however, it’s a stark reversal from what DeSantis signed only hours earlier. Under the prior order, cities and counties could not allow activities that the state prohibited but could put in place tougher stay-at-home orders.
DeSantis has grabbed national headlines for blocking a reporter from a press conference, keeping Florida open while its coronavirus-case count shot into the thousands and for suggesting that the Feb. 2 Super Bowl in Miami was partly to blame for the state’s spread of the virus.
What will he do, or not do, next?