Gov. DeSantis' aide criticized over COVID-19 tweet

Posted at 12:03 PM, Dec 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 12:03:13-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A spokesman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has deactivated his Twitter account after after he posted a tweet that photos of each dead COVID-19 victim should be balanced with 99 photos of people who survive the disease.

According to screenshots captured by a Miami Herald reporter and a reporter for WLRN, Fred Piccolo tweeted Wednesday in response to a photo gallery on COVID-19 victims and health care workers, "I'm wondering since 99% (of) Covid patients survive shouldn't you have 99 photos of survivors for every one fatality? Otherwise you're just trying to create a narrative that is not reality."

The tweet has since been deleted.

In the past, Piccolo has questioned the effectiveness of face mask mandates and has said that COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu.

Piccolo told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Wednesday he had already planned to leave the social media site.

"I've made people far angrier with other things in the past. This is just an observation that I think was worthy of consternation," Piccolo said. "But I said this was going to be my Christmas gift to myself to get off of the medium, so I said let's do it."

Daniel Uhlfelder, an attorney who had filed a lawsuit against DeSantis in March trying to force beaches to close and a statewide shutdown, called Piccolo's comments "disgusting."

"He's responsible for the communication message of the governor," Uhlfelder said. "And he's mocking or downplaying the deaths. It's just inexcusable. I don't know how you justify that. ... This is not a game. These are people that are suffering and dying."