Democrat Nikki Fried attacks Trump, DeSantis, on COVID-19, urges support for Joe Biden

Commissioner Nikki Fried announces Be SMART Florida campaign promoting COVID-19 safety on Aug. 3, 2020. Credit: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Nikki Fried, the only Democrat on Florida’s statewide-elected Cabinet, said Wednesday that Florida had surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths, even though the Florida Department of Health reports otherwise based on its data.

The number released by the agency reflected 9,932 deaths of Florida residents as of 11 a.m. Wednesday — the state doesn’t include deaths of nonresidents diagnosed in Florida or with some other connection.

Fried, Florida’s commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, did count nonresidents — 135 of them reported in the latest update on the health department’s COVID dashboard, in fact, for a total of 10,067 deaths, a party spokeswoman said.

The state Department of Health also reported on Wednesday 4,115 new positive COVID-19 cases for a total of 584,047 infections.

“It didn’t have to be this bad,” said Fried, who issued a statement Wednesday about the 10,000 mark that was posted on the Florida Democratic Party’s website.

Fried also participated Tuesday in a keynote address that including numerous rising-star speakers at the Democratic National Convention.

In a written statement about the COVID-19 deaths, Fried said, “Let’s be clear: President Trump and Gov. DeSantis have failed Floridians. Six months into this pandemic, the president still does not have a plan to fight the virus and our governor continues to ignore the science, failing to take commonsense actions to protect Florida families and workers.”

DeSantis, on his Twitter feed, cited what he viewed as positive trends in fighting COVID, including declining hospitalization rates in multiple counties. He also issued what appeared to be an inaugural emailed Daily Update reporting positive news about the disease and other issues.

Fried, whose efforts to participate in COVID policy the governor has ignored, complained in her statement about the damage to the economy from COVID plus the Trump administration’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act even while people are getting sick and dying.

“Joe Biden has a real plan to combat this public health crisis and get our state back on track. We cannot bring back these Floridians, but we must honor their memories with action and do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Fried said.

Michael Moline
Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.