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OPINION

LETTER: DeSantis excludes Commissioner Fried, ignores public best practices

Staff Writer
Northwest Florida Daily News
Northwest Florida Daily News

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Gov. Ron DeSantis’s failure to include Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried in the Reopening Florida Committee is just one more example of his inability to learn from those with more experience than he, much like putting on a protective face mask on upside down, even when surrounded by officers who have it on correctly.

I put myself through college working as an emergency medical technician, so I understand that using personal protective equipment can be tricky; safety procedures for taking a mask on and off, removing gloves without contaminating ones’ self, can require training.

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To train, one must pay attention and work with others. DeSantis fails on all counts. He fails to observe the officers around him with proper mask placement; he fails us by ignoring Fried as an important resource for safely responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. Maybe he is afraid Fried will force him to listen to experts.

Since completing my undergraduate education, I got a master’s in Public Health and a PhD in Medical Anthropology. This training helps me appreciate Commissioner Fried’s scientific orientation to policy.

DeSantis’ exclusion of Fried means he excludes some of the most pro-science positions in Florida’s leadership. He also neglects to include small business owners and medical professionals. This is not an accident, and it will likely cost even more lives than his earlier missteps (failing to shut down Florida’s beaches in a timely manner, delayed stay-at-home orders, and overseeing a flawed unemployment system).

Florida has high-risk populations, with a high proportion of elders and immigrant populations, some of whom continue to work in agriculture in dangerous conditions. We need leaders like Fried, who value the scientific method, to speak for us and advocate for science. DeSantis continues to fail as a leader by excluding voices he doesn’t want to hear.

Janelle J. Christensen, PhD, MPH, MA