Welcome to Florida ... The Free State

 A pop-up clinic could push Volusia County over a metric Gov. Ron DeSantis is touting these days: the percentage of seniors who've received their COVID-19 vaccinations.

By next week, DeSantis says more than 60% of the county's seniors will have been inoculated. The governor spoke to reporters Friday outside the Crane Lakes Golf & Country Club community center, where hundreds of seniors had been getting the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Asked by a reporter about the balance between hosting tourism-generating events such as Bike Week and safety, DeSantis again emphasized individual liberty.

"Here’s the thing: Florida is open and people can make decisions based on information, but we’re not gonna have government dictate to people”

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"You can have a good time, you can be safe, you can make the decision that’s best for you"

Play Ball! - Governor DeSantis launching youth baseball in New Smyrna Beach - 3/12/2021

Florida’s freedom has drawn people and economic activity to the state. It ranked third among “U-Haul Migration Growth States” for one-way rentals. While travel is still lower than it was last year, several airlines including Southwest, Spirit and United have added direct flights to Florida this winter. “The addition of these new flights represents United’s largest expansion of point-to-point, non-hub flying and reflects our data driven approach to add capacity where customers are telling us they want to go,” said Ankit Gupta, the airline’s vice president in charge of domestic scheduling.

The state “had an acceleration of some of the business migration that we’ve seen, particularly in finance,” Mr. DeSantis says. The Hedge Fund Association hosted a webinar last month titled “Capitalizing on South Florida,” highlighting investment firms that had moved to the region.

Mr. DeSantis’s administration counts at least 35 large businesses that have moved to the state since the pandemic began. According to Census Bureau data, Florida’s per capita business formation between April 2020 and January 2021 was twice as high as California’s and 75% higher than New York’s.

As for tourism, Mr. DeSantis says “the Panhandle had their best summer and best year ever,” thanks to family road trips from nearby states. Orlando has been somewhat slower to bounce back because it relies more on foreign visitors, and international travel has been almost entirely shut down.

Real estate across the state is booming. Home sales increased 20% in the last six months of 2020 year over year, while the median sales price rose 14.4%. Construction wages and salaries during the third quarter were 3.2% higher in Florida year over year but 4.8% lower in California and 9.3% lower in New York.

“When you talk to home builders, what they’ll tell me is they’ve had the best year,” Mr. DeSantis says. “They’ve noticed more [people moving] from California than they ever have.”

The lesson of Florida’s Covid success story, according to the governor: “We’ve shown people that you can have a good time, you can be safe, and you can make the decision that’s best for you.” 

Read it all - J.C McCallum 

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