Everyone carping about Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s purported overreaction to the novel coronavirus should reconsider the verbal venom.

You could live in Florida or South Dakota.

Under normal conditions, South Dakota, with a population of fewer than 900,000, wouldn’t belong in the same sentence with Florida, home to more than 21 million people.

But frigid South Dakota and sunny Florida are in competition for the dishonor of having the laziest governor in America’s scariest time since World War II.

Florida’s Ron DeSantis began the month with a sizable lead in the race to the bottom.

A Republican in his first term, DeSantis left Florida’s beaches open. A couple of lawyers sued him for abetting the spread of the coronavirus, but DeSantis kept swaggering in stupidity.

Strangers congregated on sandy shores, a sight that would have alarmed Lujan Grisham and every other governor committed to stopping the spread of a disease that can be painful and lethal.

DeSantis wasn’t moved. He assigned his own legal team to get the suit thrown out of court so he could go back to doing nothing.

DeSantis seemed to be untouchable when it came to lethargy. He underestimated South Dakota’s slow-footed governor, Kristi Noem.

Another first-term Republican governor, Noem was one of the many politicians who wanted to treat the coronavirus as a media-hyped version of seasonal flu. She didn’t bother with preventive measures, such as a stay-at-home order.

Then an outbreak of the coronavirus occurred at a meat-processing plant in Sioux Falls, the largest city in South Dakota. As I wrote this, more than 500 workers at the plant had been infected with the coronavirus.

Noem had acted as though her Coyote State was rustic enough to escape the disease. At once she found herself with one of the nation’s hottest spot for the coronavirus. She still sat on the sidelines.

The mayor of Sioux Falls had to lead. He wrote a letter to the plant owner, Smithfield Foods, calling on it to temporarily close the business before the outbreak accelerated further.



The mayor asked Noem to join him in the request. She did so, but without grace.

Noem said the plant, an essential business, would have been open even if she had issued a stay-at-home order. She hoped to deflect attention from her disinterest in doing anything, even after the disease exploded at the plant.

The mayor of Sioux Falls, Paul TenHaken, asserted himself to protect his city of 182,000. His initiative closed the plant, lessening the chance of more coronavirus infections, suffering and death.

Back in Florida, Gov. DeSantis showed a pulse by heading in a different direction.

He designated World Wrestling Entertainment as “an essential service.”

This sounded like a gag from Saturday Night Live. The truth was not amusing.

DeSantis is an acolyte of President Donald Trump. Until this week, Trump’s manager of the Small Business Administration was Linda McMahon, whose husband, Vince, is the chairman and chief executive officer of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Vince McMahon is the fellow who moved wrestling into the mainstream by making Hulk Hogan his champion in the 1980s. McMahon also used Trump on one of his biggest professional wrestling pay-for-view events in 2007.

Now Linda McMahon will chair a super PAC involved in Trump’s reelection campaign. And thanks to DeSantis, Vince McMahon can schedule live matches for his television audiences from the Florida cities of Orlando and Winter Park.

DeSantis at least has answered the question of whether professional wrestling is dirtier than politics. It looks like a draw.

His big decision for the week was to play footsie with the McMahons and their stockholders in WWE during a global health crisis.

Lujan Grisham can claim nothing so splashy or foolhardy. Her emergency health orders to blunt the coronavirus aren’t popular.

Tough decisions never are, as they’re discovering in states as different as Florida and South Dakota.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at msimonich@sfnewmexican.com or 505-986-3080.

(23) comments

Roberto Liam Kiely

South Dakota has a Covid-19 death rate of 2 per 100,000 population. Florida is 7 per 100,000. And New Mexico has the highest of the three states with 8 per 100,000.

So it turns out that the “lazy” governors who were very cautious about shutting down their economies were actually the smart ones, while our Governor dies a broad-brush thoughtless shut down, destroying small businesses, and a worse death rate than the two cited states whose governors didn’t ruin the economy.

Ted Nugent

I hope I'm wrong, but something tells me MLG may be lifting NM restrictions soon...too much GOP pressure. Connie Lopez-Lucero

Anonymous Coward

COVID-19 is a political virus as well as a biological one.

What New Mexico does is up to the governor. She has rejected the COVID-19 task force guidelines for opening up America as per her recent statement regarding them. So be it. She has cast her die.

It is her prerogative, under the guidelines to keep doing what she is doing, but now she is totally responsible for the damage her executive orders have caused and will continue to cause. If she delays opening the state for political reasons, she and her party should pay for it.

If she extends the lawless "stay at home" executive order into May, then her fate is sealed. She will have no second term. Lives are being ruined by a cure more deadly than the disease.

Executive orders are considered lawless, when used by governors and presidents to make law, rather than being based on existing constitutional or statutory powers. The courts will decide the legitimacy of these power grabs by executive orders used governors across the country. They are being challenged across the country.

Mike Johnson

Well said, and the science does not support her fear and panic mongering, nor her fascist orders, she is lying to us......

https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/new-mexico?fbclid=IwAR1gnf6KZHUsTftphOvkmiz9agGsIlKM9Oo6igTpUUeh7sCYZe-llIfISTU

Bobbie Ferrell

Reply to those who fault the scientific models because the numbers of virus cases and deaths have come down: It is precisely because of the behavioral changes of stay at home that the millions were revised to hundreds of thousands and now possibly tens of thousands. I'm staying with the scientists - and my career has been in an industry that cannot be conducted from home and has been gutted by the stay at home orders. Still - I'm in favor of staying alive to see a better day. Right now while I listen to the scientists I rein in my own spending and listen to the great American philosopher Henry David Thoreau - "I make myself rich by making my wants few." I also know there are many who are worse off than I am. Every week I receive my unemployment check I make a (very) small donation to a cause that is helping in these times. Some cannot do that but I can, and so I do. We all have to navigate this crisis time as best as we can - but science and facts should guide us all. Stay safe, everyone - even those who disagree with me.

Peter Wyman

Milan is simply one more media shill who claims to be a journalist but actually serves as one more apparatus of the propaganda arm of the Progressive Left. If an official has an (R) after his or her name, the attack is on. I don't see him ridiculing the buffoon masquerading as the Mayor of New York City, Di Blasio, whose Health Commissioner tweeted on February 9th: "I want to remind everyone to enjoy the (Chinatown) parade and not change any plans due to 𝗺𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 spreading about coronavirus".

And then DiBlasio himself, on MARCH 2, tweets, "I am encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite coronavirus". On MARCH SECOND! Milan, where is your snide, mocking reportage of these two officials? Do your fingers and your brain freeze when you see that (D) after their names?

I'll wait with bated breath for Milan's condemnation of Lujan-Grisham's spokesman, Tripp Stelnicki, who called suffering business owners who are anxious to reopen their businesses a "death cult". Oh wait....one more Democrat. Never mind.

Your bias is nauseating.

Thomas Conner

As usual, your column is spot on. For the folks who want to open things up, please agree that if you get the virus you will not seek treatment and tie up a hospital bed.

Joseph Tafoya

I guess you failed to hear or read that the hospital was laying off medical staff. Why? Because they don't have patients. So there are beds not used and medical staff waiting to go back to work and the hospital is losing money every day because they have no patients. This state is in dire financial trouble and will be for years to come. If the Governor has a plan or strategy to get this state open, she ought to start implementing it ASAP.

Khal Spencer

Lost in the polemics is the legitimate question of how much power we give to government to micromanage our lives even in a pandemic, and how to best balance the economic integrity of the state and nation by preserving the solvency of business and hence the nation versus slowing the spread of the disease and keeping our medical resources from being swamped. Mr. Rock, meet Ms. Hard Place.

Here in New Mexico, we have an administration that won't even let garden stores sell remotely, i.e., order by phone and pick up on the curbside. Big box stores get a pass because they sell hardware. Who in government is going to give CPR to the countless small businesses that are being strangled while we flatten the curve? How many of those businesses will fail?

And the latest? The governor's spokesperson calling people a death cult. The right wing loons in Michigan comparing their governor to Adolf Hitler. Of course that goes along with Godwin's law, even if reality is nearly as chilling in the Michigan governor's executive order. But really. Its time for a rhetorical time out.

Maybe everyone ought to tone it down and have a reasoned conversation.

Nah...

Mike Johnson

Well said Khal, and the NM government needs to tell us the truth about testing.......some journalists are figuring out what is going on here:

https://www.krqe.com/health/coronavirus-new-mexico/only-2-of-state-tested-for-coronavirus-despite-efforts-to-ramp-up-testing/?fbclid=IwAR2R2Myuod7YLp5no0Tf6ZXUmpL_oP0ckQQghX4TAa5aTl-aHOG6MLIqo2k

Mike Johnson

Always about partisan politics, 24/7, not public health, not the virus, just all about politics. Disgusting.

Dan Three

It’s always the same with liberal sheep crowd, what was it someone in the Governor’s office said “Death Cult” simply because some people want to open businesses back up. Of course with the sheep crowd that’s not a good idea people will die especially those that are born already. It seems with the sheep crowd everything that makes sense is not right. We are slowly finding out China wasn’t very honest when it came to reporting the initial outbreak but that’s ok we can’t block flights from China because that’s “racist” funny I’m not hearing that so much anymore. Closing the border oh that’s racist we should have open borders and let the American tax payer foot the bill for anyone that feels like coming in. We can pay for their medical expenses, let them have our jobs (If there are any left), and feed them. Funny how the sheep crowd hasn’t voiced any objections when Mexico beefed up security at the border to make sure Americans didn’t cross into their country when the virus showed up here. This article calls out Governors with different ideas on how to respond to the outbreak as “lazy”. Maybe just maybe absolutely killing the economy, pushing us into a depression and making a mockery of the bill of rights is OK with the AOC -Bernie crowd but I don’t think we want to see people on 10 mile long food bank lines as was reported in Texas this week, what a total shame. Maybe a different approach is worth trying or at least explored without some useful idiot calling it a “death cult”. Keep in mind how much these “Science” virus models keep changing every day. It’s time to trust the American people to do the right thing let’s get back to work before the businesses, states and the working people of this country all go broke. Someone said “let’s make sure the cure isn’t worse than the disease”.

Joseph Tafoya

It must be tough carrying the water for the Governor. Especially with that rusty old bucket that has so many holes in it. Since she effectively shut down and destroyed New Mexico's economy by closing down small businesses, this will be part of her resume. Many people's lives have been destroyed by losing their lively hood. How is she going to explain to those small business owners and to those people that are now without jobs that she did it to prevent a pandemic which by all signs never happened? At least not here in New Mexico. How is she going to explain that she and the democrat legislature pissed away our tax dollars on a budget bill they passed and she signed? The real crisis will begin when and if she lifts her ban. Yes, there may be some loss of life, but there will be many more lives that have been destroyed. If she follows the Democrat leadership thinking to hold off lifting the ban for as long as they can because it hurts President Trump, she may want to recalculate that move. With no revenue going into the coffers of the state from the GRT and oil, Senator John Arthur Smith (D) Deming chairman of the state's finance committee painted a bleak picture.

Ted Nugent

@ Tafoya: I just might just agree with you. NM going broke cuz of this mess, no fault of MLG. Trump ain't giving NM .25 cents. State kinda poor to begin with. What to do? Connie Lopez-Lucero

Joe Danna

These governors are not "lazy"; they are simply ignorant. Like our President, they lack the knowledge and critical thinking skills to understand the data and make rational decisions.

Joseph Tafoya

I find it difficult to see how some people such as yourself can make claims about President Trump's abilities since it takes all those skills and more to have been a success in the businesses he owns. A man does not deal with millions of his dollars without having above-average intelligence. By the way what exactly are your credentials?

B. Rosen

These governors have been criminally negligent in their response to this health crisis. We have already lost nearly 35000 lives to covid 19 in this country, if we had more of these right wing extremists living in our governors’ mansions that number would already be 4 times that. This should be about science, not politics. And there really is a clear consensus in the scientific community about how we should respond to this illness, a consensus that the governors of ND and FL chose to ignore.

Joseph Tafoya

B. RosenWhere is your proof! Ever prediction generated with scientific methods has been wrong. First, the death predictions were in the millions, then in the hundredths of thousandths and now the tens of thousandths. With that much error, one has to question the data algorithm they were using. I suspect it may have been a pair of dice. We have all been led around watching a curve on charts and not questioning what we are told.

Ted Nugent

Throwing shade towards other state governors . . . hindsight is always 20/20.

Pawel Fludzinski

Agreed - hindsight is 20/20. What governs the news in NYC and New York state - an outlier in the 50 states in terms of demographics. Under the concept of FEDERALISM, I applaud the willingness of other governors to try different approaches - one size does NOT fit all.

reta saffo

MLG has done a terrific job, thus far. I commend her and her team, as she has taken the correct measures to try and protect the citizens of her state as best she possibly can.

Donna Landwehr

I agree. I'm in the process of moving to Santa Fe from Colorado, where we have another proactive governor looking out the for the best interest of the people of the state.

Chris Mechels

Milan continues to deny the obvious, and distract us with his polemics. Going without his notice, that the recent, April 6th order, which made life even tougher, was simply a political response to Mayor Webber's edict earlier in the day. Webber installed limits on grocery stores of 30%, and 25% for seniors hours; MLG countered with 20% across the board. Pure politics. Whereas Webber also suggested face masks, a good idea, Michelle made no mention of that.

Michelle, and her incompetent staff and Cabinet, are still in "campaign mode" and responding, not leading. She Exhorts and Proclaims, while the government sits on its hands. The Dept of Health, under Kunkel, clearly failed to address obvious areas; the tribal areas, the senior centers, and ABQ, early on. Now all those are blowing up.

Michelle's government seems utterly incompetent, and Milan utterly worthless, as his biased polemic and vitriol are simply a distraction.

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