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Ron DeSantis on Florida’s Covid Response


16 minute read


The crucial turning point in the career of Florida’s Ron DeSantis came with his handling of the coronavirus panic of 2020. Deploying a lighter touch than nearly all states from the beginning, Florida opened up completely, to the screams of horror from major media. He then eschewed mask and vaccine mandates, while keeping schools and beaches open.

His new book The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival explains the backstory to his response and reveals the intense pressures he faced at the time, including the scientific influences that drove his decision-making.

Chapter 10 opens with some quotations from President Eisenhower’s famous warning about the military-industrial complex. “Eisenhower cited the alarming risk that what he termed a “scientific-technological elite”—an elite that is neither interested in nor capable of harmonizing all the competing values and interests that are the hallmark of a free, dynamic society—could commandeer policy and, ultimately, erode our freedoms,” DeSantis writes. “The response to the COVID-19 pandemic vindicated President Eisenhower’s fears, to the detriment of the people of the United States, especially our nation’s children.”

The remainder of the chapter serves as a competent historical survey of the calamity: how it began, how pseudoscience took over, the media complicity, and the strange way common sense and normal liberty were all thrown out the window. As governor, he faced a choice to go along or go his own way. He chose the second path. The narrative in this book is revealing of the stress, the frenzy, and the difficulty of making a hard decision for freedom in the midst of every special interest demanding that you go the other way.

His summary statement of the period:

The elites that drove the response to the COVID-19 pandemic fomented hysteria when they should have promoted calm, produced shoddy modeling and analysis to try to justify destructive policies, asserted certainty when nuance was called for, and allowed political partisanship to trump evidence-based medicine. The cornerstone of the US COVID response—the so-called “15 Days to Slow the Spread” that evolved into boundless Faucist “mitigation”—was ill-conceived, crafted based on inaccurate assumptions, and blind to the harm that heavy-handed public health “interventions” inflict on society.

While doing little, if anything, to slow the course of disease spread, this response in much of our country curtailed freedom, destroyed livelihoods, hurt children, and harmed overall public health. It also exposed the partisanship and rot in public health and the scientific community writ large. In the weeks leading up to President Trump’s announcement of the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” on March 16, 2020, it didn’t seem to me like the US was going to shut down our country. Many of the key players on the then recently formed White House Coronavirus Task Force were urging calm. The pathogen was serious, we were told, but there was no need to panic.

Of course panic was exactly what happened, and this was despite the strange timing of Anthony Fauci’s February 28, 2020, article in the New England Journal of Medicine. He explained that it is most likely that this virus will prove to be about as severe as a bad season of flu. And that article was approved for publication several weeks earlier when he was still counseling calm. By the time it came out, he had already shifted to promoting panicked lockdowns.

The shift in tone was informed in part by epidemiological modeling from Imperial College London. “Drs. Fauci and Birx spearheaded the drive for coercive mitigation policies based largely on epidemiological modeling, not empirical data,” writes DeSantis. “In publicly characterizing the shutdown as a short-term measure, Fauci and Birx were, in reality, setting the country on a course of shutdown until eradication—a goal that was not possible to achieve, but would go on well into 2021, to the detriment of millions upon millions of Americans.” Indeed, “These flawed models drove some truly disastrous policy decisions.”

DeSantis further quotes from Deborah Birx’s own book in which she says that the 15 days bit was always a ruse.

A few days later, the president held a press conference with Fauci and Birx and other members of the task force to announce that he was extending the federal shutdown guidelines for thirty days. Congress had just passed, and the president had just signed, the CARES Act, a massive $2.2 trillion spending bill that appropriated money that could finance a lengthy shutdown by providing stimulus payments to individuals, increasing unemployment benefits, and forgiving loans for small businesses that closed. These two factors really changed the dynamic across the country. The initial call for fifteen days was viewed as a temporary measure but, based on a flawed hospitalizations model, the country was pushed into a lengthy period of mitigation. When asked when it would be appropriate to relax mitigation measures, Fauci broadly and irresponsibly said, “When it goes down to essentially no new cases, no deaths.” What started as a precautionary fifteen-day period of social distancing had transformed into a de facto shutdown until eradication. The consequences of this transformation proved to be devastating to America.

At this point in the narrative, the governor backs up in time to discuss what an unprecedented policy response this truly was. It was never recommended, much less deployed in the past. He tells how he revisited pandemic plans from the past and found the 2006 treatise by Donald A. Henderson, which concluded that coercive mitigation strategies would turn “a manageable epidemic” into “catastrophe.”

What is crucial about this section is just how deeply the governor was reading in the real science at the time. He figured out, for example, that it was crucial to discover just how prevalent this virus really was in the population. Here he relied on Jay Bhattacharya’s April 2020 study of seroprevalence in Santa Clara, California.

He further noted Jay’s public stance against lockdowns. Here was when the governor stopped trusting anything coming from Washington and started leaning even on Florida’s county governments to open everything up. The media howled in horror and dubbed him DeathSantis. The same happened on the mask and vaccine mandates, which the governor effectively outlawed in the state, based not only on his desire to protect the people’s freedoms but also the actual science appearing in the journals.

Particularly fascinating here is the author’s discussion of how he came to realize the seasonality of the virus, a point that was nearly completely lost on major media and the CDC. His realization came from the work of Stanford professor Michael Levitt in his empirical discoveries concerning the trajectory of the disease. This confirmed for him that his number one job was to focus on the vulnerable while protecting the freedoms of everyone else.

Here we have a fascinating narrative of a governor who initially was willing to follow federal guidance until he, nearly on his own, came to discover that it was actually full of holes. At this point, he had to go his own way. We can look back and observe that this took him too long and he surely agrees. What’s notable was his willingness to look at data and facts and apply them in light of his responsibilities as governor.

At the very start of the pandemic, I did not appreciate how the so-called public health experts were such a stridently partisan, highly ideological mess. This became clear a couple of months later when the same public health experts who had been sharply critical of Americans for leaving their homes because of COVID-19 suddenly endorsed the mass protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis…. For two months, these so-called experts lambasted anyone for making a cost-benefit analysis when it came to COVID-19 mitigation policies. Then, the moment it suited their political interests, they reversed course by endorsing the protests as passing their cost-benefit analysis over COVID-19 lockdowns. That they specifically rejected protesting for other causes they did not support told me all I needed to know about what partisans these people were.

At this point, he was done and even suspended the bit of guidance he had previously implemented from the CDC.

After several weeks of consuming data and measuring it against policies implemented around the country, I decided that I would not blindly follow Fauci and other elite experts. To this end, I revoked my order suspending elective procedures at hospitals. The predicted April surge in coronavirus patients never materialized, leaving Florida with one of the lowest patient censuses on record. I also abandoned the federal government’s framework of essential versus nonessential businesses. Every job and every business are essential for the people who need employment or who own the business. It is wrong to characterize any job or business as nonessential, and this entire framework needs to be discarded in pandemic preparedness literature.

As for the idea of vaccine passports, which were embraced by New York and many local governments, DeSantis is very tough in this book, explaining his decision to make them completely illegal in his state.

My view was simple: no Floridian should have to choose between a job that they need and a shot they don’t want. It was especially galling to me that Biden and his ilk were prepared to see policemen, firefighters, and nurses lose their jobs over the shots. These are people who were working on the front lines throughout the entire pandemic—many of them had already had COVID—and now Biden wanted to cast them aside because they wouldn’t bend the knee.

The entire chapter is worth a read, particularly his discussion of the Great Barrington Declaration and the difficulties he faced at each stage in fighting off both federal bureaucrats and media hounds. It’s truly difficult to appreciate the full extent of the pressures at the time but the author does a great job recreating the setting at the time. These days, more people know that he was right, especially given the excellent health, educational, and economic data in Florida, and how it stands in sharp contrast to lockdowns states.

A major decision he took was to appoint the brilliant Joseph Ladapo as his surgeon general. It was not just his scientific excellence that attracted the governor. It was also Ladapo’s willingness and ability to stand up to the intense pressure:

Joe Ladapo is a good example of what it takes to succeed in an administration that bucks elite narratives. Key personnel need to view media smears as a form of positive feedback—the operatives for corporate outlets would not bother attacking someone unless that person is effective and is over the target. Not everyone is cut out to take the arrows, but being able to do so is essential to effectively navigating the political battlefield.

The governor concludes:

We can never let this happen in our country again. Congress must conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation of all aspects of the pandemic—the origins of the virus, the conduct of bureaucrats like Dr. Fauci, the damage done by locking kids out of school, the harm caused by shutting down the economy, the failures of so-called public health experts, the role played by pharmaceutical companies, and the actions of the Chinese Communist Party. For once, Congress must put out the unvarnished truth. President Eisenhower was right about the perils of turning policy over to a scientific-technological elite. As the iron curtain of Faucism descended across our continent, the State of Florida stood resolutely in the way. We helped to preserve freedom and to pull the country back from the abyss. Without Florida’s leadership and courage, I fear that Dr. Fauci and his lockdowners would have won. Our country never would have been the same.

Most political biographies are canned, conventional, and obviously manipulative (example A and B). This one is not. It is honest, frank, exciting, accurate, and an overall excellent read, especially on the topics that truly matter to the future.


  • Brownstone Institute

    The Brownstone Institute for Social and Economic Research is a nonprofit organization conceived of in May 2021 in support of a society that minimizes the role of violence in public life.

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How Did a Small Group Do This?

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From the Brownstone Institute


“You know, it’s kind of our own science experiment that we’re doing in real time.”

A very interesting study appeared last week by two researchers looking into the pandemic policy response around the world. They are Drs. Eran Bendavid and Chirag Patel of Stanford and Harvard, respectively. Their ambition was straightforward. They wanted to examine the effects of government policy on the virus.

In this ambition, after all, researchers have access to an unprecedented amount of information. We have global data on strategies and stringencies. We have global data on infections and mortality. We can look at it all according to the timeline. We have precise dating of stay-at-home orders, business closures, meeting bans, masking, and every other physical intervention you can imagine.

The researchers merely wanted to track what worked and what did not, as a way of informing future responses to viral outbreaks so that public health can learn lessons and do better next time. They presumed from the outset they would discover that at least some mitigation tactics achieved the aim.

It is hardly the first such study. I’ve seen dozens of such efforts, and there are probably hundreds or thousands of these. The data is like catnip to anyone in this field who is empirically minded. So far, not even one empirical examination has shown any effect of anything but that seems like a hard conclusion to swallow. So these two decided to take a look for themselves.

They even went to the next step. They assembled and reassembled all existing data in every conceivable way, running fully 100,000 possible combinations of tests that all future researchers could run. They found some correlations in some policies but the problem is that every time they found one, they found another instance in which the reverse seemed to be true.

You cannot infer causation if the effects are not stable.

After vast data manipulation and looking at every conceivable policy and outcome, the researchers reluctantly come to an incredible conclusion. They conclude that nothing that governments did had any effect. There was only cost, no benefit. Everywhere in the world.

Please just let that sink in.

The policy response destroyed countless millions of small businesses, ruined a generation in learning losses, spread ill health with substance abuse, wrecked churches that could not hold holiday services, decimated arts and cultural institutions, broke trade, unleashed inflation that is nowhere near done with us yet, provoked new forms of online censorship, built government power in a way without precedent, led to new levels of surveillance, spread vaccine injury and death, and otherwise shattered liberties and laws the world over, not to mention leading to frightening levels of political instability.

And for what?

Apparently, it was all for nought.

Nor has there been any sort of serious reckoning. The European Commission elections are perhaps a start, and heavily influenced by public opposition to Covid controls, in addition to other policies that are robbing nations of their histories and identities. The major media can call the victors “far right” all they want but this is really about common people simply wanting their lives back.

It’s interesting to speculate about precisely how many people were involved in setting the world on fire. We know the paradigm was tried first in Wuhan, then blessed by the World Health Organization. As regards the rest of the world, we know some names, and there were many cohorts in public health and gain-of-function research.

Let’s say there are 300 of them, plus many national security and intelligence officials plus their sister agencies around the world. Let’s just add a zero plus multiply that by the large countries, presuming that so many others were copycats.

What are we talking about here? Maybe 3,000 to 5,000 people total in a decision-making capacity? That might be far too high. Regardless, compared with the sheer number of people around the world affected, we are talking about a tiny number, a mico-percent of the world’s population or less making new rules for the whole of humanity.

The experiment was without precedent on this scale. Even Deborah Birx admitted it. “You know, it’s kind of our own science experiment that we’re doing in real time.” The experiment was on whole societies.

How in the world did this come to be? There are explanations that rely on mass psychology, the influence of pharma, the role of the intelligence services, and other theories of cabals and conspiracies. Even with every explanation, the whole thing seems wildly implausible. Surely it would have been impossible without global communications and media, which amplified the entire agenda in every respect.

Because of this, kids could not go to school. People in public parks had to stay within circles. Businesses could not open at full capacity. We developed insane rituals like masking when walking and unmasking when sitting. Oceans of sanitizer would be dumped on all people and things. People were made to be afraid of leaving their homes and clicked buttons to make groceries arrive on their doorsteps.

It was a global science experiment without any foundation in evidence. And the experience utterly transformed our legal systems and lives, introducing uncertainties and anxieties as never before and unleashing a level of crime in major cities that provoked residential, business, and capital flight.

This is a scandal for the ages. And yet hardly anyone in major media seems to be interested in getting to the bottom of it. That’s because, for bizarre reasons, looking too carefully at the culprits and policies here is regarded as being for Trump. And the hate and fear of Trump is so beyond reason at this point that whole institutions have decided to sit back and watch the world burn rather than be curious about what provoked this in the first place.

Instead of an honest accounting of the global upheaval, we are getting the truth in dribs and drabs. Anthony Fauci continues to testify for Congressional hearings and this extremely clever man threw his longtime collaborator under the bus, acting like David Morens was a rogue employee. That action seemed to provoke ex-CDC director Robert Redfield to go public, saying that it was a lab leak from a US-funded lab doing “dual purpose” research into vaccines and viruses, and strongly suggesting that Fauci himself was involved in the cover-up.

Among this group, we are quickly approaching the point of “Every man for himself.” It is fascinating to watch, for those of us who are deeply interested in this question. But for the mainstream media, none of this gets any coverage at all. They act like we should just accept what happened and not think anything about it.

This great game of pretend is not sustainable. To be sure, maybe the world is more broken than we know but something about cosmic justice suggests that when a global policy this egregious, this damaging, this preposterously wrongheaded, does all harm and no good, there are going to be consequences.

Not immediately but eventually.

When will the whole truth emerge? It could be decades from now but we already know this much for sure. Nothing we were promised about the great mitigation efforts by governments turned out to achieve anything remotely what they promised. And yet even now, the World Health Organization continues to uphold such interventions as the only way forward.

Meanwhile, the paradigm of bad science backed by force pervades nearly everything these days, from climate change to medical services to information controls.

When will evidence matter again?

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  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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The Enemies of Food Freedom

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From the Brownstone Institute


In every war, there is necessarily an enemy force, and the war on our food supply is no exception.

My previous article addressed the ongoing attacks on farmers across the globe. In today’s article, we will look at some of the culprits behind this agenda. For anyone who delved into the entities behind the tyrannical Covid policies, many names on the list below will seem quite familiar.


Bayer merged with Monsanto in 2018, combining the companies responsible for Agent Orange and pioneering chemical warfare. In 1999, Monsanto’s CEO Robert Shapiro bragged that the company planned to control “three of the largest industries in the world—agriculture, food, and health—that now operate as separate businesses. But there are a set of changes that will lead to their integration.” Today these chemical manufacturers control a huge percentage of the world’s food supply.

Cargill and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Cargill is a World Economic Forum partner and the largest private company in the United States. This behemoth monopolizes unimaginably vast swaths of the global food industry, including meat processing in the United States. Cargill’s business practices, along with bigger-is-better policies enforced by their cronies at the United States Department of Agriculture, have led to the closures of many local abattoirs which forced farmers to depend on a few corporate mega-slaughterhouses. This leaves farmers waiting 14 months or longer for butchering slots, for which they often must transport their animals hundreds of miles—indeed, farmers and ranchers must book processing dates up to a year before the animal is even born. The high fees charged by Cargill’s slaughterhouses contribute to the skyrocketing price of meat—all while the farmers themselves are barely paid enough to cover the cost of raising the livestock. The USDA, meanwhile, makes sure their policies prevent farmers from processing meat themselves on their own farms.

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust, the former owner of Glaxo before it merged with SmithKline, played a major role in Britain’s Covid debacle and is unapologetic about its goal of reducing your food sovereignty. Wellcome Trust funds Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP), an organization dedicated to developing and testing behavioral modifications to coerce the public into removing meat and dairy from their diets. LEAP’s co-director Susan Jeffs bemoans that motivating people with environmental impact labels on their foods does not seem to work: “People are already settled into very established habits” and suggests instead altering what the industry provides, thereby forcing consumer choice. Wellcome Trust researchers recommend “availability interventions” that “rely less on individual agency” to reduce access to animal food products. Researcher Rachel Pechey opines that “meat taxes show a promising evidence for effectiveness but have been less acceptable in survey work…we don’t want to just go for the most acceptable [solutions].”

The World Health Organization

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s Director-General, would like you to believe that food production is responsible for almost one-third of the global burden of disease. He calls for transforming the global food system toward plant-based foods, reducing meat and dairy in our intake, and enforcing policies to save the climate through restricting diet. A WHO 2022 report concluded that “considerable evidence supports shifting populations towards healthful plant-based diets that reduce or eliminate intake of animal products.”

World Economic Forum

You are likely familiar with the World Economic Forum and their Great Reset agenda. Visit their webpage and treat yourself to such morsels as 5 reasons why eating insects could reduce climate changewhy we need to give insects the role they deserve in our food systems, and why we might be eating insects soon. Suffice it to say that their plans for your dietary future are clear.

EAT Forum, the Lancet, and their Big Tech and Big Chemical Partners

The EAT Forum is “dedicated to transforming our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships.” It was co-founded by the aforementioned Wellcome Trust, the Strawberry Foundation, and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Their FRESH initiative—Food Reform for Sustainability and Health—aims to transform the global food system. Partners in the FRESH initiative include Google, Cargill, Syngenta, Unilever, Pepsico, and many chemical processors such as BASF, Bayer, and DuPont—a rather odd cast of characters for developing a healthy and sustainable dietary plan. EAT’s Shifting Urban Diets Initiative advocates for cities to adopt the Lancet-endorsed Planetary Health Diet, in which plant-based proteins are set to replace meat and dairy. Red meat is limited to 30 calories per day. A report drafted by EAT found that the transformation they want to foist upon our diets is “unlikely to be successful if left up to the individual,” and “require(s) reframing at the systemic level with hard policy interventions that include laws, fiscal measures, subsidies and penalties, trade reconfiguration and other economic and structural measures.”

The Rockefeller Foundation

Members of the Rockefeller family may carry more blame than anyone else in history for turning agriculture away from independent family farms towards corporate conglomerates.

In 1947, Nelson Rockefeller founded the International Basic Economy Corporation to modernize and corporatize agriculture in South America, particularly in Brazil and Venezuela. IBEC transformed farming to depend on expensive machinery and inputs that priced subsistence peasant farmers out of viability. The American International Association for Economic and Social Development (AIA), a Rockefeller-funded philanthropic organization, helped build the market through which IBEC could enrich its owners. While IBEC’s promotional literature claimed that the company was generously assisting the Third World by providing necessary consumer products while turning a profit, on closer examination, it was simply a business enterprise built on the Rockefellers’ old Standard Oil model, in which smaller competitors are forced out using monopolistic practices before prices are raised.

This tactic was taken to a whole new level with the so-called Green Revolution, first in Mexico in the 1940s, then in the Philippines and India in the 1960s, as well as in the United States. Traditional farming practices such as the use of manure as fertilizer for heirloom native crops were replaced with a model of mechanized chemical farming, using Rockefeller-funded new seed varieties which had been developed to require petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides to produce significantly increased crop yields compared to the traditional crops grown by peasant farmers in these countries.

It is worth noting that the Rockefellers, as oil oligarchs, stood to profit handsomely from the petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides that this new method demanded. The crops grown were almost all cereal crops like rice and replaced more nutrient-dense, traditional crops like millet. India experienced an increase in food but a decrease in nutrition: with more empty calories but fewer fruits, vegetables, and animal proteins, micronutrients disappeared from the diet. Anemia, blindness, fertility problems, low birth weight, and immune impairment increased.

While the Green Revolution was hailed as the solution to world hunger and poverty, it also poisoned local water supplies, depleted the soil, and left farmers drowning in debt as they could no longer independently produce the fertilizer and seeds they needed. Informed readers can see how the later Monsanto GMO Roundup-Ready seed model followed this playbook established by the Rockefellers.

In 2006, the Rockefeller Foundation, Bill Gates, and others pushed the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA, and they again followed this proven playbook. Since AGRA’s launch, African biodiversity has been lost, and the number of severely undernourished people in sub-Saharan Africa has increased by nearly 50 percent, even by the UN’s own reports. Just as in India, farmers are being tricked into abandoning nutrient-dense, drought-resistant crops like heirloom millet in exchange for the empty calories of GMO corn. Hundreds of African organizations have demanded that this neocolonial project end, leaving the future of African agriculture in the hands of the native farmers who know the land best.

Now the Rockefeller Foundation has set its sights on the US food system with its Reset the Table agenda, handily launched in 2020 just weeks after the Great Reset was announced. Under rosy language calling for inclusivity and equity, the report states that “success will require numerous changes to policies, practices, and norms.” This includes a major focus on data collection and objectives that align closely with the One Health Agenda—more on that in a future article.

Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation

Bill Gates has followed the Rockefeller playbook for fumigating his fortune and transforming his image—while building more wealth—through the cynical ploy of philanthrocapitalism.

His fingers are deep in every public health pie, and his influence is nearly equal in the food wars. Besides financing the development of fake meats, he is behind the aforementioned AGRA program, is investing in geoengineering programs to dim the sun, and as of January 2021, owned 242,000 acres of prime US farmland, making him the largest private owner of farmland in the US. It is disconcerting to think that a man who believes we should phase out real meat controls so much of the method of production.


Another organization pushing you to eat bugs is USAID. This may surprise some of you who think of USAID as an organization dedicated to helping third-world countries, rather than as a longtime Trojan horse for CIA operations. (Skeptical of that claim? Go down the rabbit hole here and here and here and here.) Their Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, known as BIFAD, released a report titled “Systemic Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.” This report calls for a complete transformation of the food supply and global agriculture. They propose to do this through ESG scores, carbon tracking, and eating insects.

So how do these organizations manage to push their agenda on the global population? We will cover that in a future article.


Tracy Thurman is an advocate for regenerative farming, food sovereignty, decentralized food systems, and medical freedom. She works with the Barnes Law Firm’s public interest division to safeguard the right to purchase food directly from farmers without government interference.

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