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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: 'Overwhelmingly Hispanic' migrant farmers to blame for COVID-19 spike

But the state's agriculture commissioner disagrees, says majority of farmworkers left several weeks ago

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at NBC Sports Grill & Brew at Universal CityWalk in Orlando, Fla., on June 3, 2020. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said clusters of "overwhelmingly Hispanic" day workers are contributing to a recent increase in daily new coronavirus cases in the state, according to WFOR-TV.

Florida officials announced Friday that the state had 3,822 new cases over the past 24 hours, a record jump, a record increase that DeSantis also attributed partially to increased testing, in addition to cramped conditions in which migrant workers live and work.

"Some of these guys go to work in a school bus, and they are all just packed there like sardines, going across Palm Beach County or some of these other places, and there's all these opportunities to have transmission," DeSantis said Friday.

The state's agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried, disagreed with DeSantis' conclusion. From the Miami Herald:

After DeSantis said last week that "the No. 1 outbreak we've seen is in agricultural communities" and followed up this week with statements that "overwhelmingly Hispanic" farmworkers and day laborers were the leading source of new cases, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried fired back, noting that the majority of farmworkers left several weeks ago after harvests ended and that cases are spiking in non-agricultural areas.

Other officials say lack of testing is still a problem in Spanish-speaking communities in Florida, including among migrant workers, and that despite many of them being essential workers, they did not get quick access to personal protective equipment.

"We sent this letter to the governor more than two months ago and now he is realizing that foreign workers are more suitable to get infected," said Antonio Tovar, executive director of the Farmworker Association of Florida. "That is very shameful because he was advised, he was told when we sent the letter."

Venues like bars and movie theaters have reopened in much of Florida recently, and DeSantis said he has no intention of rolling back reopening progress as long as the state's hospitals appear to be in good position to treat all patients who need it.

(H/T New York Post)

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