TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – Florida is on track to become the third state in the country to hit 1 million cases of COVID-19, likely within the next week. Across Florida, mayors and others are growing frustrated by their lack of enforcement power of pandemic policies.

When the pandemic began, Gov. Ron DeSantis shied away from enacting certain across-the-board pandemic policies like a face mask mandate, instead favoring local control.

“Each region in Florida is very distinct and some of these things may need to be approached a little bit differently,” DeSantis said in March.

But as State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith explains, that local control was largely stripped away in the governor’s most recent pandemic executive order.

“Now local leaders feel handcuffed because Gov. DeSantis signed an executive order saying that they were not allowed to enforce their own mask mandate,” said Smith. “Gov. DeSantis needs to lead or he needs to get out of the way,”

As cases rise across the country, 31 states have enacted tighter COVID restrictions in recent weeks. Florida has not.

Mayors in Miami, Miami-Dade and St Petersburg, as well as county commissioners in Palm Beach, are asking for Gov. DeSantis to return some of the local control they were given at the start of the pandemic.

The Florida League of Cities also weighed in, telling us in a statement: “We believe the governor should allow cities to take the actions they believe are necessary to protect their citizens. When our state and local governments work together, we are better equipped to manage this public health crisis.” 

Health professionals with Physicians for Social Responsibility prefer statewide action over a patchwork of local regulations.

“This virus is like a bird. The bird doesn’t recognize when it flies from Tallahassee to Thomasville that it’s entered another state,” said Dr. Howard Kessler.

Gov. DeSantis has been absent from the public eye for nearly three weeks now, only releasing a YouTube video touting the rollout of a vaccine by the end of the year.