Malaria Detected in Florida as DeSantis Public Health Positions Vacant – Rolling Stone

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Ron DeSantis has turned the state into a hotbed of anti-science ignorance, which could turn it into a hotbed of disease

Ron DeSantis thumbed his nose at public health experts throughout much of the Covid-19 pandemic, cracking down on institutions looking to impose preventative measures, appointing an anti-vax surgeon general who doctored data to support his stance, and even forming a state committee to counter recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.

NBC News is now reporting that two key public health positions in the governor and presidential candidate’s administration are empty. The openings include the chief of the Florida Health Department’s Bureau of Epidemiology, as well as the bureau’s head of surveillance. The bureau tracks and combats the spread of infectious disease throughout the state.

NBC News points out that the CDC issued an alert for new cases of malaria in Florida just days ago.

“These are critical public health functions,” Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University, told NBC News. “There has, unfortunately, been recent politicization of the use of vaccines and health services for refugees and other immigrants, which may explain the challenges in filling this vital position.”

Florida hasn’t had anyone at the top of the Bureau of Epidemiology since last month, and the surveillance administrator position has been empty since March.

DeSantis announced his bid for the White House in May, and quickly made his handling of the pandemic — and his antipathy toward institutional health experts — a plank of his campaign. The governor has gone hard after Donald Trump on the issue, bashing the former president for supporting a vaccine to combat a disease that has killed over one million Americans.


DeSantis even released an attack ad last month mocking Trump for not firing the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the height of the pandemic. The ad included AI-generated imagines of Trump hugging and kissing Dr. Anthony Fauci.

DeSantis is currently presiding over a state lacking a head of its epidemiology bureau at a time when malaria has cropped up within its borders for the first time in two decades. The climate crisis is only going to heighten the risk of infectious disease, which means the nation would probably be wise to avoid installing an anti-science ideologue like DeSantis in the White House.

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