Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) defended sports fans who celebrated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl victory. DeSantis ripped the media for alleged hypocrisy after being critical of the Super Bowl LV celebration in Tampa, with regard to safety during the coronavirus pandemic. DeSantis slammed the media's perceived double standard for seemingly giving a pass to crowds that assembled at a "peaceful protest" or a "Biden election."
Following the Buccaneers' 31-9 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, fans flooded the streets of Tampa to revel in the Super Bowl LV win. There were thousands of maskless people assembling in large crowds, which was covered heavily by the media, hinting that the Super Bowl would become a "superspreader" event.
Jane Castor, the Democratic mayor of Tampa, vowed to have the Tampa Police Department "handle" maskless football fans.
On Wednesday, the media asked DeSantis if enough was being done to stop the spread of COVID-19 during the celebrations, especially since there is an increase in cases of the B.1.1.7 variant of the COVID-19 virus, mostly known as the '"U.K. variant."
"The media's worried about that, obviously. You guys really love that," DeSantis replied during the news conference in Venice, Florida, regarding vaccinating senior citizens.
"You don't care as much if it's a 'peaceful protest' ... and then it's fine," the Republican governor pointed out. "You don't care as much if they're celebrating a Biden election. You only care about it if it's people you don't like."
"So, I'm a Bucs fan. I'm damn proud of what they did on Sunday night," he proudly declared.
DeSantis then explained that the current coronavirus vaccines would be effective against the U.K. variant.
"In terms of the U.K. variant, here's what we know, we know, based on all the evidence, that these vaccines are going to be effective against that," DeSantis said. "And that's really the main concern, I mean we're getting our seniors vaccinated. We've not seen any data, or any evidence to suggest that these vaccines are not effective and so if we get the seniors vaccinated."
In the United States, Florida has the most confirmed cases of the U.K. variant, with at least 343 infections identified overall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as reported by WBBH-TV.
Overall, cases of the coronavirus are dropping fast in Florida. COVID-19 cases were down 21.3% last week compared to the previous week in the Sunshine State.
"Current COVID-19 hospitalizations have been declining from a high of more than 7,600 in January," the Orlando Sentinel reported.
During the Super Bowl, DeSantis was spotted without a face mask and questioned by the media. Marc Caputo, a politics reporter for Politico, shared the Florida governor's response to being maskless.
"Someone said, 'Hey, you were at the Super Bowl without a mask,'" DeSantis reportedly said on Monday. "But how the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on? Come on. I had to watch the Bucs win."
The Super Bowl celebrations in Tampa were relatively peaceful. There were reports of a few street signs being removed, some smashed fences, and electric scooters tossed into retention ponds, according to WTSP.
"I really think overall it went well," Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said. "When you look at the big picture, the thousands of people who are celebrating, a very small group of people cause problems."
"I think we made a total of 18 arrests for the entire game and evening, so that's what we're sifting through; exactly what those arrest were," Dugan said. "But, we were stretched thin. Our officers are working 16-hour days."