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Florida Democrats seek apology from DeSantis for Hispanic farmworkers comments

8 state senators call governor's remarks linking day laborers to coronavirus spike 'offensive and inappropriate'
Gov. Ron DeSantis talks about coronavirus cases rising June 16, 2020
Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-22 18:27:44-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Democratic state senators are calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to apologize for comments he made last week attributing Hispanic farmworkers for the rise in coronavirus cases in Florida.

Eight state senators, including Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, sent a letter to the Republican governor Monday seeking a public apology for blaming the recent spike of confirmed COVID-19 cases on migratory Hispanic day laborers in Palm Beach County.

"Some of these guys, they go to work in a school bus and they're all just, like, packed there like sardines, going across, like, Palm Beach County or some of these other places," DeSantis said during a June 16 news conference in Tallahassee.

Berman and her Democratic colleagues called DeSantis' remarks "either misinformed insensitive statements or shameful scapegoating of an entire ethic community." They called DeSantis' remarks "offensive and inappropriate."

Lori Berman, January 2020
State Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, speaks at a news conference at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Tallahassee, Fla.

"Hispanic farmworkers are the backbone of the agricultural industry in Florida, ensuring the availability of high quality, low cost food products for sale and distribution both domestically and internationally," they wrote. "The contribution of these workers, along with those working in the construction and building trades, generate billions of dollars of economic activity annually for our state."

The letter goes on to ask DeSantis "to rescind and publicly apologize for the hurtful and inaccurate comments" he made.

DeSantis said last week that Florida's recent spike in cases has to do with the increased testing statewide. He also tried to reassure Floridians that the cases are "shifting in a radical direction younger."

Nobody from the governor's office replied to a request for comment.