For a moment in April, the Internet tried to cancel Florida. Photos showing crowds flocking to Jacksonville Beach amid the Covid-19 pandemic brought the hashtag #FloridaMorons to the top of Twitter. The media eagerly spun scenes of ignorant spring breakers endangering themselves and others. Nearly two months after America’s first case of coronavirus, here was Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, joining neighboring state Georgia’s “experiment in human sacrifice” by letting locals lift restrictions on their own.
Nearly a month later, Jacksonville’s Duval County reports new Covid-19 hospitalizations in the single digits. Rates of hospitalizations, cases, and deaths remain steady across Florida. So far, fewer Floridians have died of the novel coronavirus than in New York’s nursing homes alone (2,259 compared with 5,800, at least). More than half of the state’s known cases of Covid-19 are found in just four South Florida counties—the top out-of-state destinations for fleeing New Yorkers. As Politico recently concluded, “Florida just doesn’t look nearly as bad as the national news media and sky-is-falling critics have been predicting for about two months now.”