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Why the White House said DeSantis' new Covid position is 'crazy'

A few months ago, the Miami Herald said, "Nothing can hide Florida's descent into Crazyville." That was in October. Things are worse now.

Nearly two years into the pandemic, Americans have seen a handful of strange instances in which Republicans have touted treatments that do not work. For example, the right seemed quite excited for a while about hydroxychloroquine, despite the fact that it's ineffective against Covid-19. More recently, ivermectin became popular among many of the same folks.

Donald Trump, of course, even talked about putting disinfectants and lights inside human beings to treat the virus.

But as strange as those developments were, it's just as bizarre to see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis contribute to the problem in an incoherent way. The Orlando Sentinel reported overnight:

Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the Biden administration Tuesday for dropping two antibody treatments for COVID-19 that he has championed, even though the drugmakers themselves concede they are ineffective against omicron.

Even by contemporary standards, this one's a doozy.

The FDA announced this week that the monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly should no longer be used. The drugs had received emergency-use authorizations, but because they don't work against the omicron variant, federal health regulators decided revoking the authorization was the obvious move.

Both drugmakers endorsed the policy change, agreeing that the infusion treatments aren't effective against omicron.

In theory, that should effectively end the conversation. In practice, Florida's Republican governor responded to the news by throwing a fit and accusing the Biden administration of "pulling the rug out from under people."

At a press conference yesterday, DeSantis went on to tell reporters "Early this morning, thousands of Floridians woke up to news that their appointments to get treatment for Covid-19 infection were canceled by the administration, which revoked, outright revoked authorization for two very popular monoclonal antibody treatments."

Of course, the treatments were "popular" when they worked. They'd likely remain "popular" if they still worked. But for grown-ups, what's supposed to matter is not whether medicines are well liked, but rather, whether they're effective at treating patients.

And yet, there's Florida's furious GOP governor, threatening to file a lawsuit that would, if successful, force the Biden administration to re-endorse treatments that won't help people during the pandemic.

DeSantis added yesterday that there isn't "a shred of clinical data to support" the FDA's decision, which — you guessed it — isn't true, either.

It's why White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki marveled yesterday at just "how crazy this is." She added that the Biden administration continues to dispatch treatments to Florida that are effective, but DeSantis administration officials "are still advocating for treatments that don't work."

Well, sure, when you put it that way, it sounds bad.

Making matters quite a bit worse, the governor — a former member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus in Congress — could be investing his energies into promoting vaccines and boosters that do work, instead of ineffective treatments that even the drug's manufacturers concede do not work.

But he's not. Instead, DeSantis has recently publicly questioned the safety of vaccines. And made Trump-like complaints about testing. And treated his booster status as a state secret. And allowed his administration to punish a Florida Health Department official who has been integral in leading central Florida through the pandemic because the doctor had the audacity to encourage people in his office to get vaccinated.

And let's also not forget that the governor tapped a fringe figure with ridiculous ideas to serve as Florida's surgeon general — despite the fact that Dr. Joseph Ladapo has questioned the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, denounced vaccine requirements, referenced unsubstantiated conspiracy theories to argue against vaccines, and encouraged Floridians to "stick with their intuition," as opposed to following the guidance of public health officials who actually know what they're talking about.

The Miami Herald's editorial board recently took stock of the latest developments surrounding DeSantis and Florida's response to the pandemic, and the editors didn't mince any words. "Nothing can hide Florida's descent into Crazyville," the Herald's editorial board wrote.

That was in October. Things are much worse now.