“…their presence, without quarantine, is a significant public health problem and a risk to the rest of us in this area. This is a problem requiring various agencies: the hospitals, the Volusia County Health Department, and the various city police forces and the sheriff’s department to implement the governor’s standing order. If it is not implemented or enforced, it has no effect and exposes our population to increasing and unnecessary risk.”
–Dr. Hal Kushner, Daytona Beach, American hero and Senior Member of the Volusia County Medical Society, writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Is Volusia County Under Invasion?” Sunday, March 29, 2019
Something doesn’t smell right to me.
Last Friday, the News-Journal reported that no provisions had been made to screen and educate passengers arriving at Daytona Beach “International” Airport as required by an executive order issued by Governor Ron DeSantis on March 23, which requires anyone arriving in Florida from high incidence areas to self-quarantine for 14-days.
In his very informative article, “Officials: No screenings at local airports,” reporter Clayton Park wrote, “At this time, no one is being screened,” said Daytona Beach International Airport spokeswoman Joanne Magley. That would be up to the Department of Health. They’re the ones coordinating the efforts.”
It was bureaucratic finger pointing at its worst – and shocking to many who thought airport executives were asleep at the wheel during an unprecedented threat.
Because they were. . .
In response, Dr. Hal Kushner, writing on behalf of the Volusia County Medical Society, issued a persuasive plea in Sunday’s News-Journal asking officials to close the gaping hole in our local coronavirus defenses at Daytona International Airport.
Not to let a good opportunity go to waste, on Monday, I penned a little ditty calling attention to the fact that – despite Governor DeSantis’ executive order of March 23 – Volusia County’s leadership had yet to institute even cursory passenger vetting and education measures for persons arriving in our area.
Because that’s what we were told by the always arrogant Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys, who, on Sunday afternoon, shared official information on social media advising “The county has been informed by the state that it is phasing in this screening process first at major airports.”
And, “DAB has not been notified yet when screening will begin here.”
Not to be outdone, on Monday morning, District 4 Councilwoman Heather Post echoed Ms. Denys information on phased screening – then took her “colleagues” to the woodshed:
“Not taking action now because it’s not mandated, “there’s nothing to see here” or for fear that the monies won’t be reimbursed by the state or federal government is not responsible and not acceptable. I have expressed this to the County Manager and staff. If you agree, please email my colleagues on the County Council and let them know.”
Then, in an article published by the News-Journal on Wednesday, we were essentially told by Volusia County’s senior mouthpiece, Kevin Captain, that the Councilwomen were apparently full of shit – and, in fact, screening procedures were in place on Sunday?
Were Denys and Post openly lying to us – or just out of the loop?
According to Captain, during a press conference on Friday, Governor DeSantis mentioned the need for small airports to step up, and “County leadership took that as permission to take a proactive approach rather than wait for implementation by the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Transportation.”
In addition, the always effervescent Captain foolishly claimed that Dr. Kushner’s letter in Sunday’s News-Journal, “was not a factor in the decision to start screening at the airport.”
In truth, late Wednesday we learned that the “screening” being conducted by county officials at DAB consists of asking arriving passengers to complete a form listing their travel, then sign a statement documenting they understand the Governor’s order.
These “forms” are then filed with the Florida Department of Health.
Oh, participation is voluntary. . .
Look, I realize spinning horseshit into cotton candy is Mr. Captain’s bread-and-butter, but he should know that attempting to protect the vanity of a few tinpot assholes who got caught behind the curve is what they call a “career limiter” in his business.
That said, to insinuate that the universally respected Dr. Hal Kushner and the Volusia County Medical Society’s urgent warning wasn’t a factor in establishing screening procedures at DAB defies reason.
In my view, this latest debacle exposes the importance of having a single point of official information during times of crisis – and the imperative that elected officials respect the emergency response system and suppress their natural instinct to grandstand.
These people couldn’t organize a one car parade – now, they are running our lives.
You will notice in coming days that politicians and the media are using terms like “we’re on a war footing now,” or “we are at war with an unseen enemy,” – emotional tropes designed to exploit our natural patriotism and make us feel we’re part of a pitched battle against microbial forces who are mounting an intelligent offensive to kill us all – sensationalism that will allow our ‘powers that be’ extraordinary latitude with our liberties and freedoms as they work to “win the war.”
Just remember the old adage, “The first casualty of war is the truth.”