DeSantis: ‘Everyone in the media said Florida was going to be like New York or Italy, and that has not happened’
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has been working tirelessly to keep Floridians safe and further state projects amidst the coronavirus outbreak. His goal? To prepare for whatever the future may hold for the Sunshine State.
In the midst of shelter-in-place orders, DeSantis took advantage of decreased Florida traffic to accelerate road projects in heavily populated cities. “We’ve been able to accelerate key projects by as much as two months,” said DeSantis. “As people get back in the swing of things, you’re going to have reduced congestion [on the roads].”
The governor has also focused heavily on testing. Though the state has been aggressively testing citizens in major hotspots such as Miami, he wants to expand testing in all parts of the state.
“Walk-up sites are going into areas that have been under-served,” said DeSantis. “We definitely have enough supplies, but the key will be finding pockets where we haven’t tested as much.”
He also suspended any regulations that would prevent licensed pharmacists from administering tests, so that Floridians can eventually go to their local CVS or Walgreens to receive a coronavirus test.
When asked about regulating international travel to and from the state, DeSantis made it clear that he would be monitoring travel; however, he advocates that it should be on the airlines to test those visiting from other countries, not on the state. He also reminded journalists that, for the state of Florida, international travel did not have a major impact on the spread of the virus, that in fact, domestic travel had a greater negative impact on the state.
“In Florida, if you look at our outbreak, not much of it is tied to [international travel] — it’s mostly tied to New York city travel into southern Florida. The Orlando situation is worlds different than Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, and they [Orlando] have as much international travel as anyone.
“As of this morning, I think Orlando had 50 people hospitalized in that area for COVID-19,” continued DeSantis. The death toll for the Orlando area is also much smaller than in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties.
If international travel becomes a problem, he might institute a ban, but DeSantis does not appear to think that an international travel ban will be necessary for Florida.
When asked about the criticism he has received for not shutting down his state as early as some others, DeSantis had this to say: “You look at some of the most draconian orders issued in some of these states and compare Florida in terms of our hospitalizations per 100,000, in terms of our fatalities per 100,000 … you name it, Florida has done better.
“Everyone in the media said Florida was going to be like New York or Italy, and that has not happened,” continued DeSantis. “We understood we have a big, diverse state, we understood the outbreak was not uniform throughout the state, and we had a tailored and measured approach, that not only helped our numbers be way below what anyone predicted but also did less damage to our state going forward.”
DeSantis stated that Florida has less than 500 people on ventilators, with over 6,000 sitting unused. He also reminded the press that Florida did not receive an emergency supply of ventilators — other than the initial FEMA shipment — as they were not needed.
Overall, DeSantis feels confident as the state prepares to reopen its economy, largely because of all the success the state has had with contact tracing.
“In Florida, we had such an uneven outbreak, we were doing contact tracing throughout this whole time in parts of the state where the outbreak wasn’t as severe, they limited the spread and did it very effectively. This is going to be a huge part of what we’re doing going forward.”
In regard to testing in nursing homes, DeSantis assures nothing will change: “Until this virus goes away, this is the population that is most at risk. We are going to continue to protect the elderly.”
DeSantis will announce official guidelines for reopening the state of Florida on Wednesday.
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