Democrats increased criticism of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic Thursday, as first-time unemployment claims in Florida were up last week from the holiday-shortened previous week.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimated 25,012 initial jobless claims were submitted in Florida during the week that ended Dec. 5, up from 23,063 claims during the previous week, which included Thanksgiving.
Last week’s Florida total was among the lowest for a seven-day period since pandemic-related unemployment exploded across the state and nation in March. Since the start of November, the state has averaged just over 26,000 new claims a week.
However, the weekly uptick in claims could reflect mounting pressure on businesses as reported Covid-19 cases and deaths have again been on the rise.
The report came as state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a Republican, continued a tour calling for liability protections for businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
Meanwhile Thursday, Democratic senators renewed pleas for the governor’s office to provide more data about the impact of the virus on the state’s health-care industry and to lift a limitation on the ability of local governments to enforce coronavirus regulations such as mask mandates.
“There’s more layoffs expected this month in tourism and hospitality industries, which creates a domino effect to all the other businesses down the line,” Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, warned in a virtual call with members of the Senate Democratic caucus. “The governor can sketch the rosiest of pictures and manipulate all the data that he wants. But the word is out that he does not have this virus under control and has no interest in doing so.”
Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, said the state doesn’t need another mass shutdown of businesses, but simply “waiting for the magic of vaccines is not the answer.”
“We see a growing iceberg coming towards us and the lack of a coherent statewide policy has only contributed to the growth of this virus and the harm to our economy,” Farmer said.
DeSantis, who participated in a White House vaccine summit on Tuesday, has steadfastly maintained opposition to a statewide mask mandate, saying he trusts Floridians to be responsible. He also has prohibited local governments from fining people who violate mask requirements.
“I’m opposed to mandates, period. I don’t think they work,” the governor said Nov. 30 while in Kissimmee. “People in Florida wear them when you go out, they don’t have to be strung up by a bayonet to do it. Fining people is, I think, totally overboard.”
DeSantis has contended that lockdowns have not worked and has pushed to keep schools and businesses open. He also has called mask mandates in other states ineffective in curbing the spread of the virus.
“I would say that closing schools due to coronavirus is probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American history,” DeSantis said on Nov. 30. “Closing schools offers virtually nothing in terms of virus mitigation but imposes huge costs on our kids, on our parents and on our society.”
Florida is closing in on its 20,000th death from Covid-19 and has had more than 1.08 million cases of the virus.
Since the start of December, Florida has reported daily averages of 9,338 new Covid-19 cases and nearly 98 deaths tied to the virus. The daily average of cases is the highest for a nine-day period since late July.
Nationally, with pressure growing on Congress for another round of fiscal stimulus to combat the pandemic’s economic effects, 853,000 new unemployment claims were filed last week, up 137,000 from the prior week, according to the Department of Labor.
Two progressive groups, The Century Foundation and Employ America, project about 12 million Americans will see existing benefits expire before the start of 2021.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has paid out nearly $19.1 billion, mostly in federal money, to almost 2.13 million unemployment claimants since March 15.
Florida’s unemployment rate in October was 6.5 percent, with an estimated 659,000 people qualified as unemployed out of a workforce of 10.1 million.
The state numbers will be updated Dec. 18.
The Department of Labor initially estimated 20,787 claims filed in Florida the week of Thanksgiving, but a revision on Thursday bumped the estimate for the week ending Nov. 28 to 23,063.
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
James M. Mejuto says
Good luck on that! How might we expect any kind of plan coming out of
DeSantis’ office. He has no plan, much like his hero in the W.H. but he
does have a plan to intimidate and raid the homes of gov’t employees,
scaring the shit out of her children.
Well, Florida, you wanted Republicans and this is what we got!
David Schaefer says
Thank you sir. Some people in this state are brainwashed with a Trump stamp on their head. Things will not change for the better till all these idiots are voted out……..
David S. says
DeSantis has got to go. He needs to be held accountable for his blatant disregard of the citizens of this state. As a trumper he could care less about anyone but himself.
Mary Fusco says
Everyone is responsible for their own destiny. Why would you need a President or Governor to tell you what you need to do? I can read and know what I need to do. Those that need to be at affairs, sporting events, restaurants are NOT ever going to stop no matter what government tells them to do. It is human nature to do whatever you please and then look for someone to blame. Very sad.
David S. says
Sorry you lost on this one.
Merrill Shapiro says
All we’re asking for is data you and I, Florida taxpayers, paid to collect! This data is not the private property of the Governor, the Cabinet or anyone in Tallahassee, it is ours and we need it to save lives.
DeSantis a Trumper all the way. Full blown fudging the numbers and ignored the Crisis from the get go. Too late for the lockdowns and Schools to close past the inflection point of no return. IMO IFF done correctly in the beginning we would have saved lives and come out of this quicker but he doesnt pocess the courage to make those decisions like a true leader. He would rather follow the Leader the orange dimwit on the Hill and we all know the end result and how thats working for us. Its not and hes not. Another failed Governor not following thru on his Oath of Office . A coward really . He blew it when the People of Florida needed him most. Never let him or his Party forget . The moment of Truth has arrived and Ron DeSantis deceived us all. He chose Loyalty to a Sociopath over the Residents whom Elected Him. He has hid from the Constituents caring little of the consequences of his lame ass response to C19.Showing no empathy lil Donnie errr Ronnie will be looking for your Vote pathetically lying to our faces how well the Virus was handled giving his alternate version of reality that we lived thru and experienced firsthand on his watch. Total Disappointment. Hes a liar and a game player . Invading a Whistleblowers home to intimidate and gather information on those who dare work against him , basically telling the truth. He is playing Politics with Floridas Families Health. We dont need 4 more years of a Power grabbing money hungary groveling yes man to the GOP. Looking forward to the next State Election.
Rich Santomassino says
DeSantis is a dipshit just like his orange bunkerboy buddy. He thinks mask mandates don’t work BUT Kansas just did a statewide experiment that let counties mandate masks or opt out. The results: mask counties had the virus rate decrease 6%; counties that opted out had virus rates increase 100%. Does that prove anything to you, Governor dunderhead?
Well, from the start of the Federal supplement to State Unemployment, that was so grossly mismanaged at the State level. The Unemployment fund has been mismanaged since 2001. State held that Federal supplement and made interest as a bulk deposit. I suspect they used that interest to bolster the state’s unemployment fund ? There was no transparency to any of it, there still isn’t as I have yet to see reporting of what State Unemployment has accomplished beyond top level, bulletpoint, gloss overs of Microsoft Powerpoint slides ? The State Unemployment system collapsed for even providing it’s own pathetic $ 275/wk max, 12 week program. Later would indicate they were handling more volume of unemployed, but I doubt they’ve kept up with the worst of any of the layoffs since. If there were anything to brag about, you know they’d be parading those “facts” instead of reduced reporting & secrecy of Covid-19 cases as schools reopened. If one lived thru the 2000/2002 recessions you would know there were 39 weeks of unemployment with extensions 20 years ago. We’ve gone from 39 weeks to 12 weeks in 20 years of Jeb Bush to Rick Scott to Ron DeSantis. This is not solely an R’s issue though, the D’s wouldn’t have fared any better, because they have been no better at doing that prior to being replaced by the R’s for Governor and anything else.
The Voice Of Reason says
Jimbo, your view on this is pretty accurate until you lumped in the Dems with the Repubs with regards to total unemployment benefits. Prior to 2000, people got 26 weeks under dem leadership. Repubs cut it by more than half. Scott created a unemployment system that was designed for recipients to fail in the process. desantis admitted that last spring.
DeSantis isn’t a leader he is a weak follower and just does what his idol Donald Trump does and follows his every wish. He cares more about pleasing Donald Trump and could care less what the people of Florida want or need. He doesn’t care about the people dying and infected with this deadly virus in Florida and the numbers are growing every day.
He will be a one-term Governor like Trump is a one-term President with an impeachment to add to his resume.
So when DeSantis loses in the next election he can go work for Donald to shine his shoes or polish his golf clubs.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
You have gone from Hero to Zero Gov and you ain’t never ever gonna get my vote again