Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday blamed “overwhelmingly Hispanic” agriculture workers and seasonal laborers for the recent influx of coronavirus cases in the state, which was one of the last to impose a lockdown and one of the first to reopen.
The Sunshine State set a record on Thursday after reporting 3,207 new coronavirus cases, the most in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, just two days after the previous record of 2,783 was set, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune.
DeSantis, a Republican, said that groups of “overwhelmingly Hispanic” workers living in cramped conditions are the reason for the uptick.
“Some of these guys go to work in a school bus, and they are all just packed there like sardines, going across Palm Beach County or some of these other places, and there’s all these opportunities to have transmission,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Tallahassee, according to local CBS News affiliate WFOR-TV.
However, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said on Friday that the sudden spike occurred weeks after most farmworkers left following the harvests, and most of the recent cases have been found in non-agricultural communities.
“With 12,333 new cases across the state since June 10, naming rural and farm communities as a main driver is not accurate,” Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesperson Franco Ripple said in a statement to the Miami Herald.
“The governor is cherry-picking data in an attempt to blame farmworkers and agriculture for the spread of COVID-19, by highlighting a small sample size from one farm.”