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In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sat down with health care and epidemiological experts to discuss exactly how and why Florida beat COVID in a way almost nowhere else in the world did. Turns out it’s because DeSantis adopted a “focused protection approach” that was specifically designed to protect vulnerable populations like poor people. In effect, by protecting those who most needed it, Florida defeated the virus.
Sounds rational, of course; but surprisingly few other states or nations took this approach.
At the March event, “focused protection approach” proponents — whom DeSantis had relied on in the early days of COVID — sat down to rehash why it worked.
The experts included Sunetra Gupta, epidemiologist and professor of theoretical epidemiology, Oxford University; Dr. Scott W. Atlas, MD, Robert Wesson Senior Fellow in health care policy at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University; Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research; and Dr. Martin Kulldorff, PhD, biostatistician, epidemiologist, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“While Florida has been vilified in the corporate media for much of the past year, the data could not be clearer that our state has fared far better than many others, particularly those that imposed harsh lockdowns on their residents,” DeSantis said of the event according to a release. “Lockdowns, school closures, and government mandates have crippled economies, harmed our students and prevented Americans from enjoying their God-given rights across our entire county. Florida has taken a different approach and as a result, our state thrives while others decline.”
Now Gupta, who co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration, from which the “focused protection approach” was gleaned, is saying the very reason DeSantis was successful is because he adopted the approach that sought to protect those outside the “zoom classes.”
“Florida’s COVID mortality rate has been significantly below the US average and protecting vulnerable groups saved lives,” Gupta said recently. “In contrast the UK lockdowns allowed the virus to rip through vulnerable groups including poor people and older people at the expense of the affluent ‘zoom’ classes who have been able to order food and goods online for other people to take the risk they didn’t want to take in order to deliver to them.”
The Great Barrington Declaration was derided by mask and lockdown aficionados, most notably by now-President Biden when he called DeSantis’ approach “Neanderthal thinking.”
But Gupta has argued that in hindsight, Florida’s low mortality rate and thriving economy proves it was the right approach.
“People are starting to acknowledge – and they were not willing to do this for a long time – that Florida’s strategy of focused protection has meant there are forty states in the US that have higher covid mortality than we do and we have many more over 65’s than most states,” the governor said at the March event. “Public health…includes mental health and stress. The negative impact of lockdowns…will be catalogued for years to come.”
Professor Kulldorff said: “Florida proved that lockdowns did more damage than good.
“The key thing that Florida did to keep mortality down was it took strong efforts to protect the older population. It was illegal to send patients with infections into nursing homes. There was frequent testing of all staff working with older people. It did not carry out mass testing of university students which has been shown to have made no difference to infection rates and mortality rates. “Many of these measures are simply standard public health measures. Across the world countries thought lockdowns would protect people. We now know lockdown did not. “It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is. Doing all you can to prevent mortality and those most at risk with proper focused protection has been shown to have been far more effective. Instead lockdowns protected the affluent professional classes.”