Florida's COVID Policies Defied the Media's Narrative

Ron DeSantis killed people because Florida didn't impose tougher rules, we're told. But it's not true.


Omicron spreads. The media say, "Governments must act!"

Many have, bringing back mask mandates and closing schools.

Do these rules work?


My new video shows why Florida's approach is better.

Gov. Ron DeSantis ended pandemic restrictions last spring and refuses to impose new ones. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result," he said. Lockdown states let "hysteria drive them to do really damaging things."

The media hate him for saying things like that.

"Some governors are putting their own political gain ahead of children's lives," said CNN anchor Don Lemon.

If you watch most TV news, you'd think the rules, bans, and shutdowns really save lives. Florida killed people because Florida didn't impose tougher rules, we're told.

"Florida leads the nation in new COVID cases," says Action News in Tampa.

"Florida has the worst rate of coronavirus anywhere in the country!" rants The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur.

But it's not true.

Florida has had fewer deaths than 16 other states.

Mississippi, Arizona, Alabama, and New Jersey had the most deaths per capita. New York, where most TV anchors and I live, had the sixth most deaths.

Florida did better even though Florida has more high-risk old people.

What's going on?

The media rarely just lie. Most simply cite Florida when deaths are high and ignore the state when deaths fall. They deceive by omission. Florida's good numbers just don't fit the reporters' biases.

But even some pro-lockdown politicians know that less regulated Florida is no more dangerous than other states.

After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) complained that "anti-shutdown people" are "spreading COVID all over the place," she was filmed partying in Florida.

Two days after Rep. Eric Swalwell sneered that "Republican liars…prolonged" the pandemic…"your vacation cancelled," he was photographed in Miami.

DeSantis laughs about this. "If I had a dollar for every lockdown politician who decided to escape to Florida over the last two years, I'd be a pretty doggone wealthy man."

Fewer rules allow people to build better lives for themselves. Lack of shutdowns is one reason Florida's unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, well below New York's 6.6 percent.

Does this mean shutdowns and mask mandates are useless—and less regulated Florida has the answer?

No. We can't say that. There's no clear pattern.

Yes, strict mandate states like New York, New Jersey, and Michigan have some of the worst death counts, but California had strict mandates and fewer deaths.

The one clear trend: Lockdowns don't stop COVID-19, but they do destroy opportunity. California's unemployment is the highest in America.

Florida did some bad things. DeSantis should pay more attention to his own pro-freedom speeches. Last year, he decreed that even private companies may not require customers or workers to be vaccinated.

Governor? They're private companies! They should have the right to make their own decisions. It's usually the totalitarian left that won't let people set their own rules.

Aside from that nastiness, Florida's COVID-19 policies are among the most sensible.

Since lockdowns won't stop the virus, we must learn to live with it. Thanks to vaccines and new drugs that reduce COVID-19's effects, now most of us can.

"We don't have to upend human life in our quest to eliminate COVID…which can't happen anyway," says economist Don Boudreaux.

Giving up these laws is not "admitting defeat" but "admitting reality. We learn to live with COVID in the same way that we learn to live with many other pathogens….One day, every one of us is going to be done in by something."

That's why I will vacation in Florida this week.

I'll wear a mask if I'm in a crowd, but most of the time I won't. It's a joy to breathe freely.

I might catch omicron. But since I'm vaccinated and fit, I probably won't die. I might even gain immunities that protect me in the future.

And anyway, "All of us will be done in by something."

I choose to live free.


NEXT: Seattle and Detroit Move Toward Decriminalizing Psychedelics

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  1. Thank you John! As a florida resident, I enjoyed sharing this around. The media stampede to prevent DeSantis from getting any positive attention for covid while pushing Cuomo as a hero has been hard to stomach... so having a national figure do a compilation like this was really satisfying to send to those snarky detractors who keep sending stories about how DeSantis is killing everyone in florida.

    1. Don't you mean Hitler 3.0, not DeSantis?

      1. Stossel going with the smash cut from AOC hugging people and partying at a south Florida bar to DeSantis talking about being rich if he had a dollar for every lockdown proponent who comes to Florida to vacation was the Chefs Kiss.

        1. Yeah. That has been hilarious. Watching those true believers in The Science openly be hypocrites and when caught just proclaim "i will do better" as the chant of the religion.

        2. I think that what AOC and Swalwell did goes beyond mere hypocrisy. They may be boneheads regarding most subjects, but they do understand media. They had to know they would be photographed...and they didn't care. They were blatantly showing us the distinction between the serfs and the ruling class, and rubbing our noses in it. And it's not just that they can do what others shouldn't be allowed to do; they demonstrated that their "public safety" rules are completely unnecessary...and they didn't care.

          1. They may just be that stupid. Remember Swalwell was dumb enough to be seduced by a Chinese spy and fall for the tiki torch hoax during the Virginia gubernatorial election last year. As Tucker Carlson put it "Eric Swalwell is legitimately stupid..."

            As for AOC, this is the woman who got the three branches of the US government wrong, corrected herself and then got it wrong again!

            1. Agreed; stupid is sufficient.

  2. Heck, they still are remote learning at a bunch of universities. Can you imagine paying upwards of $20k for tuition and having to take remote classes?

    A good tie-in would be the Florida testing and vaccine program. Even as national stories talk about no tests being available, or how terrible the vaccine programs are run... we never had an issue here in Broward (and I think state wide). Drive up testing was quickly available, and from the very start, Florida bought huge numbers of tests - at the very start more than the rest of the nation combined.

    So my personal experience has been that you could get a vaccine as soon as they were available for your age group at a local pharmacy. You could get tested for free at a pop-up clinic with minimal wait. Free antibody treatments when you suspect symptoms of covid... no doctor visit needed, just go to the popup clinics.

    The national narrative really sounds off from a south Florida vantage point.

    1. Crap... somehow lost the top half of my post.

      I was suggesting a more detailed story about education - Broward county schools are in deep Democrat territory. Unions strongly opposed in person learning.

      Yet they probably handled covid better than almost any district in the nation.. getting remote learning up and running almost immediately and going to a hybrid in person situation very quickly.

      Our experience here was excellent, particularly at the elementary level where our school had the highest initial return rate when they went back to in person learning. We had some teachers who could not return due to health concerns, and the administration worked around it very well. Compared with our family around the country, we had minimal disruption (which was still pretty major.. but nothing compared to deep blue states experience)

      1. We had a similar situation here in Orange County, CA. Our county led with the belief that kids should be in school whenever possible, and that led them to focus on seamless remote experiences that could allow kids back into the classroom as quickly as possible. They also bulked up the 100% remote experience for crazy parents so that those parents had an option that wouldn't include trying to ruin COVID for every sane person. (And there were parents who literally made the argument that since Remote is not as good as in person, we should be 100% remote so that in person kids don't get ahead.)

        Working with our local schools almost all of our grief came from dealing with a state that would change its rules monthly- clearly trying to punish OC for having consistently better stats than adjacent Los Angeles County. Our County Commissioner was constantly complaining to the state, and in return, the state was constantly pulling shit like mandating that hospitals in Imperial County transfer patients to OC, so that our hospital beds were more full, and then using that as a pretext to impose strict lockdowns.

        The politics of this thing has been utter garbage, and I am glad to see Reason finally standing up and pointing it out for what it is.

        1. Just the fact that Los Angeles is all in on mask mandates and vaccine passports and business shutdowns last year while OC was not makes for a very good natural experiment.

          OC has better covid numbers in general. Los Angeles has worse. Regardless of LA's restrictions, they are not doing better. And these are neighboring counties.

          State doesn't give a shit about Southern California. They see the world through progressive, Bay Area eyes in Sacramento.

  3. Mainstream media has largely transitioned to propagandists for progressive totalitarians.

  4. "Florida did some bad things. DeSantis should pay more attention to his own pro-freedom speeches. Last year, he decreed that even private companies may not require customers or workers to be vaccinated."

    Since when has the freedom of businesses to restrict/mandate (at gov't request) something (an experimental therapeutic that does not work as advertised) trumped personal phsysical autonomy?

    I appreciate the article - and let's also talk about Whitmer and Cuomo shipping C+ patients into nursing homes, exactly the opposite of DeSantis, and then lying about the fatalities - but crying for the freedom to restrict others does not work for me.

    1. Exactly. If you work for a private company the boss doesn't have the "right" to bend you over his desk and fuck you in the ass.

      And way too many people saying "private companies can do what they want" don't believe any such thing. A more accurate rendition would be "private companies can do what they want if it's what the government wants". i.e. fascism

      1. I suppose the totally pure libertarian position might be that if an employer makes getting fucked in the ass a condition of employment, then that's the deal. But in the world we exist in it is a pretty reasonable labor rule. And I think a good parallel to requiring vaccination as in either case you are potentially getting something injected into your body that you don't really want there.

    2. I think Stossel hits about the right note here.

      Sure, in a truly libertarian society, employers and employees can agree on whatever terms of employment they want. That said, there are a lot of things the law prevents Employers from considering for employment today (race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities, political views). Someone's medical history (including vaccination status) just really ought not be too high on the list of freedoms libertarians are going to battle for. If you are, you are merely engaging in the Kulture War brought to us by Biden and his attempts to distract from his POS administration's performance.

    3. Employees have physical autonomy. They can quit if they don’t like a vaccine requirement. Just like they can quit if they don’t like a requirement to wear clothing to work.

      1. "Employees have physical autonomy. They can quit if they don't like the requirement to fuck their boss. Just like they can quit if they don't like the requirement to show up on time to work."

        Eat a bullet, rapist.

        1. You would do well in the Biden administration, where private companies have no rights.

      2. Right, so the Blizzard suit is garbage to you because "they could have quit" and since they didn't they must have agreed.

  5. Hooray for Stossel! Good article all around!

    To include the below out-take. Blind "R" partisans lose sight of this at times...

    Florida did some bad things. DeSantis should pay more attention to his own pro-freedom speeches. Last year, he decreed that even private companies may not require customers or workers to be vaccinated.

    Governor? They're private companies! They should have the right to make their own decisions. It's usually the totalitarian left that won't let people set their own rules.

  6. I do hope DeSantos continues to rise in prominence nationally. The more politicians that find viability in bring demonized by mainstream journalism. The quicker mainstream journalism loses its gate keeping abilities, and the harder it becomes to suppress inconvenient facts.

    1. The former president will have something to say about this. And the former president is probably the Democrat's best hope to win in 2024.

      1. "And the former president is probably the Democrat's best hope to win in 2024."

        Creech NAILS it! The best hope for the GOP would be to defy the hard-core "R" party rank-and-file, and find a primary candidate who thoroughly repudiates Trump's Big Lie, and whups Trump's arse at the primaries!

        Although I also think that there's a YUUUGE chance that Trump is just milking His Deluded Followers for $$$money!!! (Much of which he can convert to personal use as I understand). Trump will decide NOT to run, at the last minute, and take the money and run!
        ‘A complete rip-off’: Campaign-finance experts puzzled and stunned by Trump camp’s reported ‘money-bomb’ ploy

        1. Comparing personalities Trump wins over Biden. Comparing the plight of the American people including minorities Trump wins over Biden. Comparing the state of the world Trump wins over Biden. Comparing honesty Trump wins over Biden. Considering term limits Trump wins over Biden. Considering intelligent policies that work and getting things that need to be done accomplished Trump wins over Biden. Comparing mean tweets Biden wins over Trump. Comparing mean speeches Trump wins over Biden. Comparing personal interactions with individuals I never heard Trump cruelly look at a not very attractive woman and tell her she is a lying dog faced pony soldier for telling the truth. You knew what Biden was thinking when he was looking directly at her when he said "dog faced."
          If Trump had been treated as Biden has been his approval would have been over 75%. If Biden was treated as Trump was, he would have been impeached or the 25th would have been used to remove him. Biden is actually doing what the left warned Trump would do if elected.

      2. Effeminate obsession doesn't make for good analysis, creep.

  7. “The media rarely just lie.”


    1. Yeah, Stossel sounds a bit precious there.

      To quote that former national health expert, Dr. House, "Everybody lies."

      We lie for gain, we lie for appeasement, we lie to fit it, we lie to win, we lie to vanquish, and, most of all, we lie to ourselves. Media are essentially in the lie business, to deliver products that readers and publishers want to be true (but seldom if ever are true).

      I would bet that it takes more effort and causes more discomfort to tell the truth in most situations. So even without any biased purpose, the inherently lazy human animal will lie.

    2. I've seen the opposite the last 4 years myself. Even yesterday multiple members of the media said how historically great bidens press conference was.

      One medianmember proclaimed Joe's understanding of the English was so great the common person and most reporters simply can't understand his points.

      1. Andrew Feinberg
        Watching @POTUS, the one thing that strikes me is that he's articulate and detailed in a way that is completely inappropriate for today's media environment and easily weaponized by his opponents to make him look addled and weak.

        Andrew Feinberg
        Replying to @AndrewFeinberg
        Or to put it another way, he's talking like a print newspaper guy in a TikTok world. It's a speaking style that doesn't work so hot when people have short attention spans and respond best to memes and soundbites.


      NPR is standing by its report that Chief Justice Roberts asked his fellow justices to wear masks on the bench to protect Justice Sotomayor, who's diabetic, but Justice Gorsuch refused. All 3 justices have denied the report.

      Thus NPR is asking us to believe the word of their unnamed sources over the on-the-record denials of all three people involved in their story. That's an easy call.

      1. Was the unnamed source Dan Rather?

    4. It's true. They don't just lie, they coordinate the lie with other media outlets.

  8. It is really interesting to see Reason progressing from its timid "just summarize the science" nonsense to recent articles finally forcibly asserting the insanity of these limits on our freedom.

    1. I wonder what the actual motivation is. It coincides with the rest of media seemingly trying to reduce covid as a crisis to try and help Biden and democrats for the mid terms.

    2. I'm sure it has nothing at all to do with the fact that even mainstream liberals have grown tired of the nonsense, and are actually willing to discuss costs/benefits of all this forced isolation.


    Pres Biden, in the longest news conference in presidential history, made news, pushed back on critics, called out lies, took responsibility for mistakes he believes he made, expressed surprise at GOP, talked foreign policy and didn't lash out on reporters.

    Quite the change.


    If I have this right:

    The Democrat President just questioned if the 2022 elections will be legitimate while the Democrat Congress, corporate media, and tech companies are going after anyone who questions if the 2020 elections were legitimate

    1. As I said in my article, 2020 was the cleanest election ever so if we don't drastically change the rules, the election will be stolen in 2022.


    A Quebec talk show celebrates young children ratting out unvaccinated people to the police [video]

    "EARNEST CHILD: "We should cut everything from them [the unvaccinated] little by little until they submit."
    GLEEFUL HOST: "It looks like we've got some future politicians here!""

    1. Îmi amintesc securitatea.

    2. Was the brat wearing a snappy brown uniform with arm band?

    3. ’Who denounced you?’ said Winston.

      "It was my little daughter," said Parsons with a sort of doleful pride. "She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day."

    4. A scene out of "Cabaret." The future belongs to us.

    1. The turd Reich.


    Is this Jim Crow? The Democrats are talking about it a lot lately about something else, which is obvious nonsense, so I assume so.

    NYPD arrest multiple people including a young child, for trying to enter a museum (@AMNH) without proof of vaccination [video]"

    1. If they didn't want to get arrested, they should have gone shoplifting instead.

    2. The gall of Democrats to talk about Jim Crow while implementing Jim Crovid makes me sick.

      1. The unvaxxed can still get hospitalized, but only after determining the number of jellybeans in the jar.


    The Select Committee has issued subpoenas to Nicholas J. Fuentes and Patrick Casey.

    The committee is demanding records and testimony from the two witnesses who promoted unsupported claims about the 2020 election and were present on the Capitol grounds on January 6th. [Link]

    1. Jesus. The comments are insane.

      So many good little fascists out there, cheering this on.

  14. Florida followed science, the rest of the country followed The Science, which was really just The Politics in a wig.

  15. Florida has less Covid deaths per capita than either New York or New Jersey, so you can sort of understand why folks like AOC want to get out of their pesthole states for a Florida vacation.

    1. Also, we actually have winters here. Have you ever been on the boardwalk in January? Not fun.

  16. Live free, get sick, kill others. Sounds great jackass.

    And in any case, you'd expect that when the great majority of NY lives in one super dense city that they would have a higher rate of spread compared to a place that is more spread out.

    But hey- it's not like you just gloss over facts that are inconvenient to your narrative right? Like just how you accused others of doing?

    1. Let's see. According to the US Census Bureau, the degree of urbanization in New York is 88% and in Florida is 91%.

      But don't YOU let any facts get in the way of YOUR narrative.

      1. You just ate raspberry’s narrative for dinner.

    2. Just like you are doing now. There is no question that Florida did a far better job managing it all than most states. Your claims that sensible policies are killing people get more and more ridiculous every day.

  17. And thanks for revealing that you consider "live free" as inherently bad. Perhaps you should do a search for least-free countries and move somewhere more comforting.

  18. ............ Last year, he decreed that even private companies may not require customers or workers to be vaccinated. Governor? They're private companies! They should have the right to make their own decisions. It's usually the totalitarian left that won't let people set their own rules..........

    Oh John you do NOT understand. Yes they ARE private companies, which is precisely WHY they have no call or authority to mandte to ME< a customer or emplyee, a medical proceedure or treatment that I may not want. Next thing ya know, you'l be advocating for my local gas station t mandate I go get a pacemeker fitted. Same thing.
    You also fail to recall that Federa law PROHIBITS any coercion or pressure (such as "you can't work here" or "you can't shop here" if you don't get proceedure XYZ performed upon your body) to coerce anyone to accept or receive any EXPERIMENTAL medical device or proceedure. Please do not fail to recall that these injections are just that.. experimental medical proceedures. Futher, the administration or treatment being suggested can ONLY be administered with the FULLY INFORMED CONSENT of the putative recipient, or the parent of the intended recipient is a minor child. (that means under 18 years of age)

    Now I want you to stand there with a straigth face and tell me that YOU were fuly informed when you took YOUR shots, and that NO ONE pressured you in the slightest. If they did fully inform you and brought no prssure to bear upon yuo you are in the tiniest minority of all those who have received these injections.

    Maybe yuo are the outlier. But how many of those "out there" were also fully informed? Were they told the number of deaths so far resulting from that shot? How about myocarditis? Nerve damage? Brain damage, strokes, etc? Go and look at the VAERS stats as of this week..... and know that somewhere between 50 and 100% more incidents that acutall happned were never reported. the system os SO klunky and time consuming most folks give up, and most docs refuse to take the time. So itis far worse than reported by VAERS folks. How can anyone be "fully informed" in the face of that set of stats?

    1. Now I want you to stand there with a straigth face and tell me that YOU were fuly informed when you took YOUR shots, and that NO ONE pressured you in the slightest. If they did fully inform you and brought no prssure to bear upon yuo you are in the tiniest minority of all those who have received these injections.

      Dude, what the fuck?

  19. The law banning vaccine mandates is not as clear as Mr. Stossel makes it sound. He says private companies should be allowed to make their own decisions. But there are scores of areas where this is not true - pay, benefits, discrimination, etc. My issue here is he is against the state forcing a company not lo force its views on their employees. I wonder what he would say if a company like Chik-Fil-A said it would only hire Christians?

  20. I crunch the Worldometer death per capita numbers every three months. Florida was the worst jurisdiction on the planet for COVID deaths in the third quarter of 2021, with 797 out of every million dying.

    And it's disingenuous to compare Florida's totals with those of states like New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, which were hammered early on in the pandemic at a time when treatment was uncertain and vaccines were nonexistent. Compare the numbers for the same quarter: New Jersey was the worst of the three with all of 109 deaths per million. It was eight times more dangerous to be in Florida.

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