As Florida battles an increase in coronavirus cases and a record number of hospitalizations for COVID-19, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) is embarking on a food battle.
On Tuesday, DeSantis added British conglomerate Unilever to the list of state “controlled companies” because one of its divisions, Ben & Jerry’s, announced last month that it would halt ice cream sales in the occupied West Bank. by Israel and disputed East Jerusalem. The move could ultimately bar Florida from having investments in Unilever or contracts with the company and its subsidiaries if it doesn’t change course in 90 days.
In a press release, DeSantis said he wanted to deter “awakened companies” and send a message “that we will defend our strong relationship with the Jewish state.”
Florida reported 11,515 people hospitalized with the coronavirus on Tuesday, a pandemic record, including some 2,400 in intensive care, according to the Orlando Sentinel. And experts see no immediate relief.
“In the short term and in the long term, cases are going to explode,” Edwin Michael, professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, told The New York Times. “We expect cases to peak in the first week of September.”
Michael said without a slowdown in the number of cases, the state could exceed hospital bed capacity by early next month.
But as cases continue to rise, DeSantis has prioritized its crop war with Ben & Jerry’s.
“I will not sit idly by while awake corporate ideologues seek to boycott and part ways with our ally, Israel,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has been much more passive when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Last week he signed an executive order to cut funding to school districts that require face coverings. As classes prepare to resume amid the latest wave of the pandemic, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended universal masks indoors and in schools.
DeSantis is also fighting in court to prevent COVID-19 vaccine requirements on cruise ships.
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