There’s been a global pandemic and civil unrest. Now, he’s facing a hurricane season that is projected to be one of the worst on record.
“The only thing left is to have a volcano erupt off the coast of Florida,” Moskowitz said.
The 39-year-old state emergency management director and
Moskowitz is usually at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ side at news conferences outlining the state’s coronavirus response.
In Moskowitz’s line of work, the wrong choice could cost people their lives. That’s what he says keeps him up at night.
“I understand the stakes of what we are doing,” he said. “A day delay of getting masks out -- that one day delay -- could be the difference in whether that doctor or nurse contracts COVID.”
An unlikely pick
Moskowitz is not the person you’d think DeSantis would select to lead the state’s
DeSantis has been branded a Trump-loving puppet by his detractors on social media. Moskowitz is a liberal from the bluest part of
Despite their differences, they’ve worked together on one of the worst public health crises in the nation’s history, speaking with each other on an almost daily basis, Moskowitz said.
“We have a rich history of
Moskowitz said he’s been given latitude by the governor to run his agency as he sees fit. The politicization of the pandemic that has divided
That’s at odds with other dynamics in
A mad rush to get supplies
Democratic state Rep.
When Jones needed testing at a senior-living center in his district recently, Moskowitz made sure a mobile lab arrived in a matter of days, Jones said.
“This pandemic doesn’t pick whether you watch Fox or
“Jared has been able to manage holding all politics at bay and keeping Floridians at the forefront and making sure we are safe,” Jones said. “That is
Moskowitz hasn’t been shy, either, in fighting to get badly needed supplies. As the state scrambled to buy N95 respirators, Moskowitz likened the system for procuring the masks to a “Ponzi scheme.” He pleaded on social media for the manufacturer 3M to bypass distributors hiking up prices and sell the masks directly to the state.
Since then, 3M has started suing vendors found to be trying to sell the sought-after masks at inflated prices.
The rush to ramp up testing and stockpile supplies hasn’t been problem free. The state hired a pediatrician with a checkered past to deliver thousands of coronavirus test results to patients. It also inked an
Moskowitz said he never dreamed of becoming emergency management director, but everything changed on
A native of
Moskowitz recalled being at the
“All of that haunts me,” he said. “I didn’t hear crying. I heard screaming. It’s what has prepared me to do this. This stuff is not for the weak.”
Moskowitz said the massacre showed him the importance of government getting it right in heading off disaster. The
As a state legislator, Moskowitz made an emotional floor speech that helped secure passage of landmark legislation that included Florida’s first gun control measures in two decades. The law increased the age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21, required statewide background checks for long-gun purchases and made it easier for law enforcement to seize guns from people suspected of being a danger to themselves or others.
Away from home
Moskowitz has been living in a cottage near the emergency operations center in
His wife and 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons have stayed in
Moskowitz said it’s been hard to be separated. His wife, Leah, has been left to manage his two “hooligan” boys without him, he said.
“Sometimes I come home and wonder who has the easier job -- me or her,” he said.
As of late, Moskowitz is preparing for the peak of hurricane season. Projections indicate this year’s season could be severe, and COVID-19 complicates everything.
Emergency managers are rethinking how they issue evacuation orders in a time when an exodus could spread the virus. If a mild storm approaches, people living in well-built structures could be asked to seek refuge at home, rather than leave. Hurricane shelters will check temperatures and isolate people suspected of having the disease. People could be spaced apart in school classrooms instead of being crowded together in gyms.
Moskowitz said he’s hoping for a break from the onslaught of bad news.
“I have not asked to become the master of disaster,” he said. “This is a first for everybody, but each day is about getting better. You make a mistake, you fix it.”
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