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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been accused by state Democrats and critics on social media of “disappearing” amid the state’s record-breaking Covid-19 surge, an allegation driven by DeSantis’ absence from public events since Dec. 17 and social media posts with old photos of the governor — here’s what’s known about the controversy.

Key Facts

DeSantis last held a press conference on December 17, leading Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings to ask during a Covid-19 briefing on December 28, “Where is Ron DeSantis now?”

Florida recorded 77,848 new Covid-19 cases on December 30, a record-high figure that has been climbing rapidly in recent weeks.

Following Demings’ briefing, DeSantis’s Twitter and Instagram accounts posted an image showing the governor visiting a local bakery,  Sister’s Sweets, Eats and More, though MSNBC confirmed with the governor’s office that the appearance was made 12 days prior, on December 16.

Left-leaning social media presences like Grant Stern also pointed to DeSantis’ dated photos as evidence of his apparent absence, noting the governor posted a photo on December 30 of his visit to Bagelicious Deli in Ocala, though the restaurant’s Facebook page posted the image on December 17.

Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and the one of the state’s Democratic candidates for governor, told MSNBC DeSantis cancelled multiple meetings with state officials in December and she has not seen the governor since December 17.

In response to the criticism, DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw tweeted a screenshot of the governor’s public schedule, which listed meetings from December 28.

Pushaw added that December 30 and 31 are holidays for state employees, and that DeSantis is spending time with his wife and children.

DeSantis’ communications office did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

Key Background

DeSantis has repeatedly pushed back against White House recommendations for Covid-19 prevention. In November, DeSantis signed legislation that prevents private employers, government entities and educational institutions from mandating Covid-19 vaccines. In July, DeSantis issued an executive order to ban school boards from implementing mask mandates.

Big Number

4,090,000. That’s how many cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Florida since the pandemic began, with the state becoming the third in the nation to exceed four million cases following California and Texas. Florida’s 19,043 cases per 100,000 residents is higher than either of the above states.

What To Watch For

Former President Donald Trump said recently he thinks DeSantis would make a good vice president should he run again in 2024.

Source: Forbes

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