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"There are some states that did draconian policies and you see them, and they have spikes," DeSantis, a Republican, said during a press conference in Jacksonville, calling out Democrat-run states.
"They have massive spikes in places like Illinois, I mean Michigan has had a lot of problems -- Michigan is half of Florida's size," he said. "They've got, like 5,000-plus fatalities. We have about [2,100,] 2,200 fatalities and we're twice their size."
Continuing, he said: "Illinois -- major spikes and they have as stringent policies as you can, so I think that a more moderate approach is more effective with the virus, but I also think it’s more effective at getting people back to work and getting the society functioning again."
DeSantis also took aim at New Jersey, a coronavirus hot spot, for placing COVID-19 patients in nursing homes.
"Do you do a New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania approach -- which is take a COVID-positive patient out of the hospital and force them back into the nursing home, or do you do what Florida did and said, actually, you cannot return a COVID-positive patient back to the nursing home," DeSantis said.
"And the difference is -- when you send the COVID-positive patient back to the nursing home, it spreads in the nursing home to the most vulnerable people in our society -- massive infections, obviously huge numbers of fatalities," he said.
According to a recent Associated Press tally, more than 4,300 recovering coronavirus patients were sent to New York’s already vulnerable nursing homes under a controversial state directive that was ultimately scrapped amid criticisms it was accelerating the nation’s deadliest outbreaks.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer similarly lifted requirements that nursing homes establish special coronavirus units and admit from the hospital patients who were recovering from COVID-19, giving the facilities more flexibility to decide if they can safely isolate people.
The new order, issued late Wednesday, came after the Democrat governor had faced questions from lawmakers in both parties who expressed concerns that non-infected residents were being put at risk.
DeSantis has faced pushback from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who suggested that the Florida governor was "premature" in touting his state's numbers.
"Most of the experts say if this is going to come back because we moved too soon, it will take several months before that happens -- July, August, September, October. And to compare New York and Florida is sort of like apples and oranges," he told "The View" on Thursday.
"We were the hot spot. We had more coronavirus cases than anybody else, and so I think you’ve got to be careful, and you’ve got to listen to the scientists. I don’t think name-calling of anybody is appropriate, but I do think, you know, getting out there and bragging that everything is fine is premature at best and could be dangerous if the disease comes back, and no one knows. We have had no experience with this virus in the past."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.