Governor Ron DeSantis calls Florida 'God's waiting room' for elderly as hundreds die in nursing homes, gets slammed
Florida is considered a favored destination for retirees and often called God's waiting room
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in a statement on Sunday, April 26, jokingly called his state "God's waiting room" and "ground zero" after an increasing number of deaths in the Sunshine States occurred in nursing homes. DeSantis' remarks, however, sparked immediate outrage, with many calling his statement "shameful," and "lacking decency".
DeSantis, during a press briefing on the state's coronavirus response, in Orlando, said: "Florida is ground zero for the nursing home, we're God's waiting room," he said. "We have a huge number of facilities, a huge number of residents."
The Florida governor was referring to an old joke about the state, which is popularly called as "God's waiting room," considering it is a favored destination for retirees. It is estimated that Florida has a population of 21.23 million people, out of which nearly 4.46 million are 65 years or older. The state is a popular destination among senior citizens given its relatively warm climate throughout the year, and is also among the nine states in the country that does not tax income, the Daily Mail reported.
The Florida governor's use of the popular term, however, drew criticism from many, who pointed out that it was inappropriate to use it in reference to the elderly who have succumbed to the virus in the nursing homes during the pandemic.
A Twitter user wrote: "This is a shameful statement. What a lack of decency. The elderly have so much to offer. Their wisdom alone is a gift."
While another referred to the governor as a "POS", an acronym for "piece of sh**" and said that he should be held responsible for every senior citizen that died in Florida. "This is an awful thing to say, especially now," a third person tweeted.
"I wonder what Florida’s seniors think about this," tweeted another user as one added that the Florida State House "has to be Satan’s waiting room for heartless governors."
DeSantis' remarks came after Florida, on April 24, became one of just 10 states in the country with more than 1,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus while the total number of cases in the region has surpassed 31,000. According to The News-Press of Fort Myers, one in four deaths from Covid-19 in the state were linked to either a nursing home, assisted living homes, or other long-term care facilities.
The state governor, during the press briefing on April 26, also said that parts of Florida were now "on the other side" of the coronavirus outbreak, and added that he would soon announce whether he would lift the lockdown in the region which has shuttered much of the state's economy. DeSantis' safer-at-home order is set to expire on Thursday, April 30. The governor added that the state's reopening would be done in a methodological manner in an attempt to prevent a resurgence of the virus outbreak.
"Even if you could flip the switch, if people don’t have confidence, then the economy is not just going to take off. It’s not the way it works," DeSantis said, explaining that people should be assured that the infections had not spread at as rapid a rate as was predicted.