Photos circulating on social media have raised new questions about the whereabouts of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he faces criticism amid a surge in COVID-19 in his state.
Critics of the Republican governor have accused him of being “Missing in Action (MIA)” as Florida has set new daily records for new COVID infections four times since December 23.
DeSantis last held a press briefing about the pandemic on December 17 and photos of the governor shared to social media have raised questions.
DeSantis’ official Twitter account has recently shared photos of him that were apparently taken several days earlier without noting the fact. On Tuesday, DeSantis’ account posted a photo that had been taken 12 days earlier—a fact later confirmed to MSNBC by the governor’s office.
On Thursday, DeSantis’ Twitter account shared a photo of him at Bagelicious Deli & Bakery in Ocala, Florida. Grant Stern, executive director of Occupy Democrats, pointed to a December 17 Facebook post from Bagelicious Deli & Bakery featuring that same photo.
“Ron DeSantis is still living in December 17th. #WhereIsRon,” Stern wrote.
Critics have accused DeSantis of being MIA as Florida grapples with a rise in COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, the state reported 58,013 new cases, setting a new daily record. The total number of cases in the state throughout the entire pandemic has now surpassed 4 million.
Separately, Twitter account PatriotTakes shared photos on Thursday that it said show a holiday event, including a sign saying: “Welcome to a holiday reception hosted by the Governor & First Lady of the state of Florida.”
The sign also showed the date as December 20, 2021. Other photos show DeSantis at the purported holiday reception along with other people.
However, it is not clear where the photos came from or if they were all taken at the same date. Some Twitter users expressed doubts about the veracity of the photos but the images have added to speculation about DeSantis’ whereabouts.
The website of the Florida governor does not mention any holiday reception in press releases for December 20, 2021.
PatriotTakes tweeted on Thursday: “It’s funny DeSantis’ team is putting out that 12/17 photo when Ron DeSantis hosted people for a ‘Holiday Reception’ at the Governor’s Mansion on 12/20.”
“Is this his last sighting? If he has covid, was he knowingly positive during this event?” they tweeted.
There is no evidence that DeSantis has COVID-19.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, a Democrat, told MSNBC’s Tiffany Cross on Wednesday that she hadn’t seen DeSantis since December 17 and that he had canceled a cabinet meeting in mid-December.
“I haven’t seen him since December 17 so I don’t know where he is,” Fried said. “But [to be] quite honest, even if he was here, he wouldn’t be doing anything anyhow, and we know that. So once again the people of our state are gonna have to step up and beat this […] without him.”
The governor’s website has continued to issue press releases noting his activities since December 17 with a release on December 22 reporting that DeSantis had made 14 appointments to the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council.
Newsweek has asked Governor Ron DeSantis’ office for comment.