Amid Pandemic-Driven Liquid Oxygen Shortage, Orlando Asks Residents to Slash Water Use or Face Boil Alert

By Brett Wilkins. Originally published at Common Dreams

As Florida’s Republican-led Board of Education warned school districts they would face fines for not complying with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates, leaders in the state’s fourth-largest city issued a plea that vividly illustrated the consequences of the governor’s refusal to follow public health guidance.

On Friday, the state Board of Education ordered school boards in Alachua and Broward counties to disclose the salaries of all their members so that the DeSantis administration can begin withholding 1/12 of their pay each month. The move is retaliation for the districts’ implementation of mandatory mask requirements for all staff and students in defiance of DeSantis‘ ban on such sweeping mandates.

The Republican administration accuses the districts of running afoul of a rule requiring public schools to “allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt-out the student from wearing a face covering or mask.”

State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran explained in a press release that “these are the initial consequences to [the districts’] intentional refusal to follow state law and state rule to purposefully and willingly violate the rights of parents. This is simply unacceptable behavior.”

Proponents argue that mask mandates will save lives in a state with one of the nation’s lowest coronavirus vaccination rates, and some of its highest Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations. Public health experts say the former is a direct cause of the latter.

“You’re having a very difficult situation because of the low level of vaccination that you have, not only in Florida but some of the other states,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this month. “Florida is really one of the worst in the sense of the number of new cases and now the number of new hospitalizations.”

President Joe Biden responded to Florida’s threat against the school boards by vowing to cover any salary shortfalls caused by punitive withholding.

“The Biden Administration is fully committed to a safe and healthy return to in-person learning for all students this fall,” U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “It is deeply troubling to see state leaders putting politics ahead of the health and safety of our students, and that instead of supporting our educators for doing the right thing, state leaders are trying to punish them.”

In another unintended consequence of Florida’s largely preventable Covid-19 surge, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the Orlando Utilities Commission on Friday urgently appealed to residents of the state’s fourth-largest city to dramatically cut back on their water usage due to a pandemic-driven shortage of liquid oxygen, an essential component of water purification.

According to The Orlando Sentinel:

If commercial and residential customers are unable to reduce water usage quickly and sufficiently, Orlando Utilities Commission may issue a system-wide alert for boiling water needed for drinking and cooking. Without reductions in water usage, a boil-water alert would come within a week, utility officials said.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer asked residents to immediately stop watering their lawns, washing their cars, and using pressure washers. Landscape irrigation consumes about 40% of the water provided by OUC.

“This is another unfortunate impact of the pandemic continuing to surge in our community,” Dyer, a Democrat, said at a news conference. “And it’s another result of what happens when residents do not get vaccinated, become critically ill, and need dire medical support and treatment.”

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  1. Larry

    And yet I still hear people here in Massachusetts talk about what a great job Desantis is doing in Florida. The level of governing incompetence and utter disdain for people is really quite something to behold.

  2. Displaced Platitudes

    I am awestruck at the venal behavior of the person who occupies the governorship of Florida; he embodies every stereotype of the “Floria Man”. I am equally horrified that once the delta variant has its way with the school children of the state, this smear of excrement will claim success at achieving herd immunity for the state.
    Of course, no mention of lives lost, long-term health issues, or the sacrifice of teacher and healthcare workers and their families will ever be spoken by this waste of oxygen.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      DeSantis is giving Florida Democrats a lot to run against, if they themselves also have anything to offer and run “for” and run “on”.

      It will be an interesting and revealing test of Florida, FL Repugs, FL Dems, etc.

      Sensible Covid concernists and global warming reality accepters might want to look into moving out of Florida. Macho Covid fate-tempters and global warming deniers might want to look into moving to Florida.
      Hopefully the two groups can set up opportunity-swap brokerage groups to help eachother help eachother trade places.

      And if it becomes clear and apparent that some states achieve a persistenkyt lower rate of various Coronavid-related bad outcomes and other states achieve a persistently higher rate of various Coronavid-related bad outcomes, people from the less diseased states might want to consider not visiting the more diseased states until the more diseased states get their disease levels down to the less diseased-states’s levels. If indeed any states end up as ” less diseased”.

      If no difference of approach makes any difference in Coronavid rates in the long term, then all 50 states will eventually converge on one high rate, and all will be swimming in the same toilet together. At that point, all one can do is look for less diseased regions and stay within those regions or go to those regions and then stay within them.

      1. KLG

        “if they themselves also have anything to offer and run “for” and run “on””

        Thank you, dw! I needed a laugh, rueful though it be, in these darkening times…

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Let the drought refugees from the West move to Florida. And create a de facto functional drought-equivalent there.

  3. notabanker

    “It is deeply troubling to see state leaders putting politics ahead of the health and safety of our students,….”

    In related news, it is deeply troubling to see the US Government putting corporate profits ahead of the health and safety of an entire nation, yet here we are.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Indeed, oddly or not, the Biden administration and the CDC are themselves putting children, faculty, and support staff at risk with their return-to-school-at-all-costs plan.

  4. sean

    Another politically motivated twist on the facts. Water consumption, at least in part similar to the indoor living in Fla. which spreads the disease, is a seasonal affair, but the facts be damned.

    With the numbers on all aspects of Covid reporting highly suspect or at least incomplete and with a consistent pattern of back-tracking ( don’t wear a mask, do wear a mask etc.) the fear index increases on a daily basis.

    And the Vax makers keep making more money, the politicos maintain control and the reality that these variants are going to burn through the population because the government cannot take the necessary steps(lock down the border , trace and isolate carriers and quarantine at risk populations) means the show will continue. Jesus wept.

  5. Mantid

    Being a teacher, I have two responses the state taking 1/12 of teacher’s pay to enforce a non-mask mandate.
    I’d give DeSatis one week to change his mind. DUuing that week, I’d request that he run my classroom for one full day. 40 – 70 kids in each class, prepare an hour long lesson that will interest and teach 11 – 14 year olds a few concepts, and maintain order while ensuring the students leave in a good mood and happy about learning an important chunk of information.

    After his work day, without a teacher’s aid and no admin. responding to his pleas to take “Billy Bob” to the office when his nose is bleeding – if he still insists on taking 1/12 of my pay I go to step two.

    Step two – strike, but be fair and have the action commensurate with his action. Walk out of the classroom for 1/12 of the day. Just go out front, with all the other teachers for about 45 minutes and read NC or take a power nap.

    Good time to call his bluff.

    1. ambrit

      Alas, De Santis is the sort of bugger to pull a Reagan Crushes Patco strategy. He will fire the lot of you and pull in any warm body he can lay his grubby little fingers on to put on a Potemkin Education Village show. Credentials will be waived “for the duration of the emergency” and watered down. Foreign ‘educators’ will be recruited to replace ‘native’ education workers. It’s all about Globalization and The Bottom Line. In that case, the ‘Native’ teachers will have to institute a wave of terror attacks on the scabs or give up. This is going to get very messy.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        So would Abbott, and maybe Ducey, and maybe a few other Repuglan governors.

        Remember when some Libertarians thought they would stealth-invade New Hampshire and make it the Libertarian Paradise State? Maybe this is the LiberTrumpians’s moment. Maybe millions of LiberTrumpians can start moving to Florida and Texas, while millions of Rational Refugees start moving out.

        But where would Rational Refugees move to? Unless some so-called Blue States become taken over by serious New Deal Revival party-movements, such states will offer nothing for Rational Refugees to move to. Certainly a state which would elect a governor who believes in mass-murdering old people in their nursing homes with forced-move-in live covid-bombs isn’t a state which will support a Newer New Deal any time soon. Or any time ever.

        So where would Rational Refugees in flight from the Trumpanon States be able to go?

  6. Cesar Jeopardy

    “Landscape irrigation consumes about 40% of the water provided by OUC.”

    What? Average annual rainfall in Orlando is 52.1 in. Average over all American cities is abut 38 in. Number of precipitation days (days with 0.01 inches or more of rain) in Orlando is 114.4 with the national average 106.2 in. I’m not sure I could justify any landscape irrigation.

    Off-topic: For those who thinks it rains a lot in Seattle, I’d check the average annual rainfall for that city–it’s spot on the national average for U.S. cities.

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