The responses of our Republican-controlled state and federal governments to the COVID pandemic are frightening.

With a low-wage service-based economy heavily dependent on tourism, COVID has hit Florida’s economy particularly hard.

At least 850,000 Floridians have lost their jobs in the past four weeks. With one of the lowest unemployment benefits in the country, plus a computerized unemployment benefit processing system designed to discourage applicants, the unemployment system implemented by Republican Gov. Scott is working as planned. Only 4% of all applicants have received unemployment benefits.

Our current governor takes his marching orders from the White House. Delays in issuing statewide responses created a patchwork of local responses, maximizing confusion, burdening local governments, and further lowering the public’s confidence in their government, which is a key component of the Republican agenda.

More than 20% of Florida’s residents are 65 years old or older. As part of his effort to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic, Gov. DeSantis refused for weeks to release information on the location and number of elder care facilities that have reported positive COVID-19 cases.

Only in response to a lawsuit brought by a coalition of news organizations were the names of affected facilities released. As of this writing, the state of Florida still refuses to disclose the number of cases — both patients, residents and staff — at each facility and the number of deaths.

Florida hospitals have not yet had to deal with an inundation of patients, but it is inevitable that the for-profit health care delivery system will not be able to handle the demand for medical services.

Now more than ever, we must turn to an independent, fact-based media to uncover and report on the enormity of the health and economic crises we are facing.

Phil Stone, Dunedin