Statement by Commissioner Nikki Fried: Governor “Failing to Lead” on COVID-19

Apr 3, 2020

Tallahassee, Fla. — Today, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried, an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet, offered the following statement:

“Florida needs leadership now more than ever, but Governor DeSantis is failing to lead. His safer-at-home order is filled with glaring loopholes as the details emerge. He quietly issued a second executive order that weakens stay-at-home restrictions, allowing mass gatherings on beaches and in religious institutions, creating enormous confusion for local officials, and putting Floridians and businesses further at risk after weeks of inaction. He’s deflecting responsibility for his unemployment system fiasco, leaving millions of Floridians without the economic help they need indefinitely. At a time when our state most needs steady, accountable, transparent leadership, the Governor is unwilling or unable to provide it. Governor, you need to correct these failures now, before our people and economy are further endangered.”

The Governor has drawn criticism in recent weeks for opposition to issuing a statewide stay-at-home order, for issuing a controversial second executive order, and for severe backlogs and delays with the state’s unemployment system, as more than 2 million Floridians have sought unemployment help this week alone. Commissioner Fried had first called on the Governor to issue a stay-at-home order on March 20, and joined members of Congress in calling on the Governor to increase the state’s unemployment assistance, among the lowest in the nation.