May 3, 2021

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Press Conference Transcript May 3: Suspends All Local COVID-19 Emergency Orders

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Press Conference Transcript May 3: Suspends All Local COVID-19 Emergency Orders
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis Press Conference Transcript May 3: Suspends All Local COVID-19 Emergency Orders

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference on May 3, 2021 after suspending all local emergency orders and restrictions for coronavirus. Read the transcript of the briefing here.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis: (00:02)
Got everybody? Here they come. Well, it’s great to be at the Big Catch and be here in St. Petersburg. I want to thank our legislators who are here, President Simpson, Chris Sprowls, speaker. We also have Danny Burgess, Tom Lee, Nick DiCeglie, Linda Chaney, and Tracy Koster. And I want to thank all of them for doing a great job during this legislative session. We’re here to do one of the bills that I think it is worth pointing out, that there was a whole host of successes in this legislative session. If you look at some of the things we’ve been working on with education, with environmental restoration, if you look at mental health, if you look at the health of our budget.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (00:46)
A year ago, people were saying we were in dire straits, that this was just got to be something that we weren’t going to be able to recover from. We’ve doubled the rainy day fund, we have 9.2 billion in total reserves. So, it was a budget that really is meeting, I think, a lot of the needs of our state, but also doing it in a very responsible way, and in a way that actually makes us more resilient to deal with future downturns. So, I want to thank them for their efforts on that.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (01:17)
One of the things that we spoke about very early on, both with the speaker and President Simpson, was we need a new construct for these emergency powers that have been used throughout the country, lesser so, obviously from the State of Florida’s perspective, but certainly we’ve had local governments do it. If you would have told us three years ago, when I was running for governor, “Hey, there’s going to be a pandemic,” that would have obviously been something that people would have been concerned about. But I don’t think anyone at that time would have thought that the fact that you would have a pandemic, would allow governors to seize power to lock kids out of school for a year, to lock businesses down, to constantly be issuing edicts, restricting people, fining people, doing all this basically infinitum. I think maybe people thought there would be a small time, but to be doing that was something that, I certainly wouldn’t have foreseen that that would have been acceptable.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (02:15)
Now in the State of Florida, we worked very hard particularly since the summer, to jettison those types of policies, and we focused on lifting people up. We wanted people going back to work, we wanted our kids to be in school, we thought that that was very important that parents have the ability to send their kids to school. And we wanted our economy to be healthy, we wanted our society to be healthy. We wanted people to be happy living in Florida, and so that was the path that we trotted. It was the road less traveled at the time, but I think we’re sitting here now and we see the state’s much more prosperous as a result of that, and that was the right way.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (02:54)
At the same time, you look around and there have been areas that have been under the yoke of some serious restrictions and lockdowns for months, and months, and months on end. In fact, you have local governments in other parts of the country, they just did, I read Brookline, Massachusetts did an outdoor mask mandate, or extended that. Even the CDC says that doesn’t make a difference. Washington DC just banned dancing at weddings, so they’re literally going to have law enforcement there, policing people’s weddings that say you can’t dance, when this is the day you’ve been waiting for? It’s insane.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (03:33)
And so, I think what the legislature did was very thoughtful, it has my full support. It not only reins in the ability of local governments to do this stuff, it provides more check against the State, which I fully support. They didn’t need to use these checks against me because I was using this much more judiciously. And in fact if you look, our emergency order has basically been in place to do three main things since the summer: keep schools open, because we needed the emergency to be able to help the funding for the schools, move money in case of vaccine or any type of response that we’ve had to do, and then more recently, to make sure that we can’t have vaccine passports in the State of Florida. That’s really it, that’s how we’ve used it. But I think the legislature looked and said, “Well, okay, what if we weren’t a California situation? What would the legislature’s ability be?” And so, they put safeguards for the people of Florida, where the legislature would be able to come in and potentially overrule any type of executive order, emergency order issued by a governor. And I support that.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (04:41)
And my staff, I remember we were talking about, “Why would you want them to be able to potentially do that?” I said, “You know what? If I’m issuing orders, that these guys are willing to call themselves back into Tallahassee, into some special session to be able to overrule them, maybe I need to reevaluate what we’re doing,” and any other governor should have to do that as well. But I think most importantly was the protections this provides for families, for workers and for businesses. The legislation creates a default legal presumption that during any emergency, our businesses should be free from government mandates to close, and our schools should remain open for in-person instruction for our children.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (05:21)
That actually was the pre-COVID pandemic playbook. No one advocated a year-long restriction or lockdown on business or schools like we’ve seen in these other states. And I think over the last years, we’ve seen some of the abuses, we want to make sure that we stop that here. Here at the Big Catch, they’ve had to deal with some of these local ordinances, local restrictions. We’re going to have John come up and talk about, I know they’ve been fined for doing things, and we want that to be something in the past. Now, since last summer we’ve said no on individuals, and that’s something we suspended in March. I remitted any outstanding fines for both individuals and businesses. I’m here to tell you at our next clemency meeting, if there’s any other outstanding fines on either individuals or businesses, we’ll remit that also.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (06:13)
Nevertheless, we are here for this bill signing. And I think that the approach here is showing Florida leading the way again, because I think there’s other states that are probably going a different direction, but here’s some of the highlights. “The bill ensures that neither the state nor local governments can close business or keep kids out of in-person instruction, unless they satisfy demanding and continuous justifications.” One of the things I think has been so problematic about this, is that there are different policies that have been enacted, particularly in other parts of the country, different restrictions or mandates. And they’re done, and then even when the evidence refutes the effectiveness, or the need, or the justification for them, they continue on and sometimes they’re even re-upped. This changes that and make sure that people are protected.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (07:04)
It also says that, “Any local emergency order, excluding hurricane emergencies are capped at seven day increments, and may only be extended to a maximum duration of 42 days.” And most importantly as governor, I’ll have the authority to invalidate a local emergency order, if it unnecessarily restricts individual rights or liberties. So what we’re doing, and I think also where we find ourselves today in the State of Florida, we have a majority of our adult population has been vaccinated. At this point, the people that haven’t been vaccinated is certainly not because a lack of supply or a lack of availability.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (07:41)
At the end of December, beginning of January, we had millions of people that wanted it, we had hundreds of thousands of doses. We’ve worked through the high demand population, particularly the seniors, over 80% have received shots. As you go further down the age bracket, the demand is simply less. But we have more than enough vaccine, if you want a vaccine, you have an ability to get it. I think then that the retail footprint alone is tremendous in the State of Florida. And I know some other things folks are trying to figure out, okay, how do we move these vaccines now?

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (08:15)
I think there have been two very harmful things that have been done recently, in terms of increasing vaccine hesitancy. The first was how the FDA and CDC handled the Johnson and Johnson. Look, when you’re dealing with these vaccines, you always want to see if there’s an issue. You can put out appropriate warnings, particularly if it’s for a certain demographic, but by hastily taking it effectively off the market, I think that that’s caused confidence in at least that vaccine, to plummet. And that was a very high demand vaccine prior to that happening. So, I think that was handled in a way that has increased the hesitancy of people to get the vaccine.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (08:53)
And then I think the other thing quite frankly is, when you have people particularly in Washington saying, “Yeah, get vaccinated, but then make sure you continue to social distance and wear masks all the time,” well, the message that that sends to people is that the vaccines don’t work. Because if the vaccines worked, that would be your ticket to basically live normally, and make decisions for yourself. That would be the message that actually would work with people. So, I think that they’ve sent a message to say, “You know what? Get vaccinated, but it really isn’t going to do anything for you.” Well, why would someone want to put something in their arm if they don’t think it’s effective?

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (09:27)
And the fact of the matter is, that is an anti-science posture, to say that we need all these restrictions even with mass vaccination. Because the numbers of the vaccines are better than the clinical trials were, in terms of the effectiveness. If you look at CDC, I think they have over 95 million people have now been vaccinated. The people that have been reinfected or infected after vaccine, has been way less than one 10th of 1%. These numbers are about as good as you could possibly hope for.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (10:03)
… numbers are about as good as you could possibly hope for. So my message is the vaccines protect you, get vaccinated, and then live your life as if you’re protected. You don’t have to chafe under restrictions infinitum. So I’m hoping that we’re going to be able to get a little bit more uptake. We are going to be doing PSAs. I know we’ve started some of that, to basically send the message that this is good. Even if you’re a lower risk, I think that this vaccine has been so effective that even a low risk person dramatically reduces it. So we want to be able to do that, but we are happy that we have so many different options for vaccines.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (10:39)
And look, our goal was seniors first. We’re seeing that pay off with the hospitalization rates for seniors. That would not have happened, I think, had we taken another path and put seniors either second or third in line. So we’re happy with doing that. So now today I’m going to let the legislatures come up. But what I’m going to do, I’m going to sign the bill. It’s effective July 1st. I’ll also sign an executive order pursuant to that bill invalidating all remaining local emergency COVID orders, effective on July 1st. But then to bridge the gap between then and now, I’m going to suspend, under my executive power, the local emergency orders as it relates to COVID. I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do. I think folks that are saying that they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, you really are saying you don’t believe in the vaccines, you don’t believe in the data, you don’t believe in the science.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (11:47)
We’ve embraced the vaccines. We’ve embraced the science on it. The data I’ve said has been good from the beginning in terms of clinical trials. It’s even better in real life. So it’s available, we want everyone to get it. And if you get it, just know that the reason you get it is because we want to be able to have people enjoy themselves and live freely in the state of Florida. So thank you guys for doing this. I think that this was something that we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but I think this creates a structure that’s going to be a little bit more respectful, I think, of people’s businesses, jobs, schools, and personal freedom. So Senator Simpson?

Senator Simpson: (12:35)
First of all, I want to say there’s a lot of other states having to deal with reopening at this time. And thanks to our governor and his team very early on, started a reopening committee. I was very proud to chair one of those committees. We were opening right from the beginning, and this governor has shepherded us through this process in a responsible fashion. We took care of our most vulnerable from the very beginning. That’s why our pandemic numbers look the way they are relative to our peers. And make no mistake about it, families are still dealing with COVID. We have family members still dying of COVID, but you have to ultimately weigh the balance of peoples’ lives and their mental health and the amount of suicides and all of the things that go wrong by locking our citizens down. And this governor has taken the lead right from the very beginning, and he’s not hesitated to do the right thing.

Senator Simpson: (13:25)
This piece of legislation was born out of two committees this year. We started a pandemic committee to deal with how did we get in a pandemic? What happens if there’s another pandemic in the future? And God forbid, hopefully it’ll be at least a hundred years. What’s the playbook for that? And should we lock down? And should local governments be able to lock us down for many years? We had no concerns with this governor trying to lock our state down. This governor’s goal was how do we responsibly open our state? So Senator Burgess, I really appreciate him heading up this committee this year and bringing to attention what do we need to do to make sure that we are ready for the next opportunities, with the right PPE, with the right protocol for keeping schools open? So I really appreciate the work of our committees. I appreciate the work with the Speaker and his team as we worked through this process. And I’m really proud to be here today with the governor and the rest of the legislature to sign this good bill. And thank you governor for being such a great person in this area.

Speaker 1: (14:29)
Thank you, President Simpson. And thank you, Governor DeSantis. When you back up a year ago and you look at what was happening in the country and you can say to yourself, here we’ve went through a 100 year pandemic with the leadership of Governor DeSantis and President Simpson. And when that happened, when the lockdown started to happen, Governor DeSantis’ sole mission was to do what is safe for a brief period of time to get our businesses back open, to get our schools back open. And if you remember all the naysayers … it’s easy today. We sit out here in St. Petersburg. It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining, business is open, but the reality is the rest of the country wanted to keep our children locked away from their schools. They wanted to keep business owners who had spent their entire lives building their businesses to feed and tend to their families, they wanted to keep them closed.

Speaker 1: (15:13)
And yet here in Pinellas County, the sheriff in Pinellas county, Sheriff Gualtieri, had done a check prior to any of the lockdowns, prior to any of them, to see if businesses were complying with the CDC. And you know what he found? They were. 90% of businesses plus were doing what they needed to do to keep their customers safe, to keep their employees safe, because that’s in their best interest as well as it is ours. But Governor DeSantis put together that committee, and President Simpson mentioned that he and I were on it to reopen the state and to do so safely. But we’ve made a plan as Floridians, really since 1992 in hurricane Andrew, to make sure that we’re ready for whatever disasters.

Speaker 1: (15:46)
None of us, none of us could have predicted a hundred year pandemic. And yet through all of that, Governor DeSantis comes and says not give me more power during the pandemic, but says what if I wasn’t the governor? What if it was somebody else? What if we had the government in California and Gavin Newson was our governor or Andrew Cuomo was our governor? Disney just opened in California the other day. It has been open here for the better part of this year and into last year. Those states are in devastating … their economy, they’re devastating their businesses and their schools, their kids have lost days and months and nearly a year of learning gains during that period of time. That didn’t happen here in Florida. But the governor comes and he says, I’m a constitutional conservative. We need to put reasonable checks on government at every local level now that we have seen what can play out when this happens for such an extended period of time.

Speaker 1: (16:37)
And that’s what this bill does. Senator Burgess and Chairman Leake, who chaired our pandemic committee in the House, went on a mission at the beginning of session, along with our teams in the House and the Senate and the governor’s office, to make sure we looked at everything that happened during the pandemic and put those reasonable restrictions and checks in place. That’s what this bill does. It’s a response to the pandemic. It makes sure that while we’re keeping people safe, we’re also respecting peoples’ ability to raise their families and provide for them, that we respect their ability to worship in the houses of worship. Las Vegas, open casinos, but close churches. That didn’t happen here in the state of Florida because of the leadership of the men and women behind you. Governor, I’m grateful for your work on this and President Simpson and all of our team.

Speaker 2: (17:23)
Good afternoon, everybody. Governor, thank you for picking such a great spot. The big catch is literally about a hundred feet from my army reserve unit and this place is on our rotation for lunch … you know how important lunch is on drill duty. So we’ll see you all soon. But Mr. President, I wanted to say thank you so much for trusting me to be able to lead the select committee on pandemic preparedness and response. Your sole charge was get us prepared for the next time, when the next time occurs. So we built this plane as we were flying it. It wasn’t easy, but I appreciate so much you giving us that direction, that charge, and having the faith in us to do what we needed to do to make sure that Florida is better prepared going forward. And Mr. Speaker, thank you so much for picking such a great counterpart in the Florida House with Chairman Leake. He’s a heck of a guy and it was a pleasure to work with him. And thank you so much for your commitment on the House side to making sure that we get something done.

Speaker 2: (18:20)
I want to kind of speak from the heart for a minute, because before I came to the Senate, I was honored to serve as the agency head for the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs under this governor. And nobody could have predicted after a year of so many great initiatives like Forward March and all the things we were doing to better the lives for Florida’s veterans that this pandemic would strike and everything would stop on a dime. And as they say in the play Hamilton, I was honored to be in some of the rooms where it happened. And I’ll never forget, because we run seven nursing homes in the Department of Veterans Affairs, seven state veteran nursing homes. And as we know, COVID was like wildfire within nursing homes across this nation and the world. It was ground zero for so much of what we witnessed and what happened to our vulnerable population.

Speaker 2: (19:10)
So I remember the day when Florida really had just started getting some positives within our state. And we were reporting that where our governor said, we have to take action now to ensure that our homes are protected. And that seems simple now. A year later, it seems simple that we shut down access to visitors, to vendors, to contractors in all our nursing homes across the state, but it wasn’t simple then. That was a monumental game-changing decision that protected our seniors. And it’s because we have a leader in the governor’s office who knows how to make command decisions in the moment, decisions that are tough, decisions that will have a cause and effect, but you have to balance. In a pandemic like environment, you have to balance what’s the worst decision against it’s the least bad decision. And our governor found a way to do that every step of the way. And I am so great –

Speaker 2: (20:03)
Found a way to do that every step of the way. And I’m so grateful for his leadership and his willingness to lean forward in the middle of this pandemic and to do things like ensuring our nursing home residents were all tested very early on. That was controversial then. Our governor made sure that happened. And so we did not have the spread that we saw in other states because of the forward thinking decision making that we had with this leader to my left. And I know that on behalf of all nursing home residents across this state governor, we are so grateful for your willingness to make tough decisions in the moment. There is no playbook for this, but we had a leader in this office who knew how to handle situations like this. And you taught this soldier some interesting lessons sailor. So I appreciate you so much. We’re grateful for you. Thank you and just appreciate you.

Speaker 3: (20:59)
I’ve got a lot to say, just kidding. Thank you, I’m going to start by thanking the governor for this opportunity and for the opportunity to be on the reopening Florida task force and for Senator Simpson, [inaudible 00:21:10] Simpson’s commitment to this legislation and to speaker Sprouts for the opportunity to serve him on his leadership team. 13 months ago we were facing a looming but largely indecipherable crisis. We didn’t know what was coming out of us. None of us could have imagined that government would order shutdowns of your businesses and force people into isolations into their homes. Just you couldn’t imagine it. Today what the once novel virus was is less so. We have therapeutics at work, we have vaccinations that save lives. Yet the vaccines that we have today don’t have the same proven history of safety as the ones we ask our students to get. Hesitancy is real and understandable, particularly for our minority communities.

Speaker 3: (21:54)
This is a good reminder, the past 13 months have been a good reminder of the extraordinary power with which we have vested our governments. I’m reminded of what Thomas Jefferson said. The natural progress of things is for Liberty to yield and for government to gain ground. And I believe in my heart the Axiom that a government that is big enough and strong enough to give you everything you want is big enough and strong enough to take everything that you have. This legislation balances people’s safety and their personal liberties. So what this legislation does is it makes sure that the state of Florida is planning and preparing for the next public health emergency. It funds the emergency response, it protects individual liberties. It limits government actors and it provides transparency and accountability for those who would take your liberties. And for that I’m honored to be here and honored to see this legislation signed.

John: (22:45)
This is quite an amazing event. From the bottom of my heart and I represent 50 operators in the room, all food and beverage. And you have done so much to save our industry. Is he not the best governor of this country? One of the things the governor saw and I speak for all these guys was when the mayors and county people issued these orders. We were in a state of emergency. We really don’t seem to be in a state of emergency and then powers, those people in those positions abuse that power. In other words trying to shut us down, giving us citations, giving us fines. I mean who fines businesses that are struggling? It doesn’t make any sense. But you, you came here you’re our savior. Everything you’ve done so far is going to make us a better city, a better country. And I cannot thank you enough. And it’s a privilege to have him here.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (24:03)
Great. Thank you. Pete.

Speaker 4: (24:10)
Thanks for having me again, governor. I echo a lot of John’s sentiments. We are so privileged and blessed to have you in our leadership. And I know this sounds like people from the Galley and Mary Margaret’s here in Downtown St. Pete. With the leadership in Tallahassee through this pandemic it’s made St. Pete probably the best place on earth to be doing business. And we’re so blessed and so thankful to be here. The governor chose people over politics, and he did it time and time again. He continued to explore the data. Now, Florida has been leading the way in the United States all along this whole time. A year ago this week we reopened our dining rooms. A year ago this week people began to have hope again in my industry.

Speaker 4: (24:56)
Things aren’t a walk in the park, it hasn’t been the easiest year, but man we’re so thankful. And it’s just been a wild time we won’t forget it. Elections have consequences people, elections have consequences and make sure you pay attention to what’s going on under local and county levels and going all the way up in Tallahassee. And considering we’re still in the midst of a legal battle right now, we have a hearing I believe June 6th to try to commute our mass citations. These things that aren’t really based in science we know now it’s not based in science. Things aren’t evidence-based.

Speaker 4: (25:31)
I mean it’s like bartender 8:00 PM, no mask. I mean we know there’s a zillion loopholes to take down your mask. I think on behalf of a lot of us here in hospitality we’re excited to put this time behind us. Individual responsibility should rule the day. No one’s saying you can’t wear a mask, we’re just saying you don’t have to wear one anymore. Right? And that if you want to do what’s best for you and your business, that’s your choice. And I think that’s the way it should be. And that it feels really good to be here in the state of Florida. Thank you very much Governor.

Speaker 5: (26:09)
Thank you very much governor and the panel. Thank you for everything you’ve done. We’re blessed to be in St. Pete and the state of Florida. We live in paradise every day. We went through a hard time last year but also Tampa Bay was in a great time. I mean how often do you get the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley cup, Tampa Bay Rays go to the world series and the Tampa Bay Bucks win the super bowl? We have been blessed. Coming through this crisis we’ve been in and gathering people that have been home stuck at home and they want to have a good time. And then you have people coming in from the city saying you can’t do this, you can’t do this, you have to do this. We did everything we could. People want to have a good time, get your shots and let’s keep going. Thank you very much.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (27:05)
So we look forward to signing this here in a minute. I just want to make sure because no one really mentioned it, but not only does this bill provide protections for individuals, for school children, for businesses, vis-a-vis emergency orders. It also provides protections for all Floridians in terms of their personal health information and prohibits statutorily vaccine passports. You have a right to participate in society, go to a restaurant, movie, a ball game, all these things without having to devolve this type of information. And by the way, you give that to big companies they are going to absolutely try to monetize that. So we didn’t want to go down that road. My emergency order prohibited it in the meantime, but then this bill July 1st, we’ll make that a permanent law in the state of Florida. And I think that that’s the appropriate thing. And I know many states are now following suit which we appreciate. So if you guys want to crowd over here, we’ll put the John [inaudible 00:28:05] on a number of these documents.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (28:10)
All right. The first one, today is the 3rd of May right? And this is the bill itself passed by the legislature that is now in the book. So we’ve got that done. Then pursuant to that it’s effective July 1st. So this order, executive order pursuant to that, obviously it can’t take effect until July 1st, but it terminates and validates all remaining emergency orders from local government in the state of Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (29:04)
And then given the situation we find ourselves and given that the legislature spoke very clearly about this, given the fact that we have widespread availability of vaccines, that the vaccines are effective. I think these emergency orders the fact is we’re no longer in a state of emergency all that we have to do to deal with COVID. And when I’m done with it, that does not need an emergency posture by local government to be able to do. We’re going to be able to handle it, people are going to be able to make decisions and they have the wherewithal to be able to protect themselves with vaccine if they want. So this order suspends remaining orders until we get to the permanent invalidation date of July 1st.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (30:00)
[crosstalk 00:30:00].

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (30:00)
Are there any questions? Questions? Yes, ma’am?

Speaker 6: (30:27)
So in terms of local government, city councils, [inaudible 00:30:27] do you know our constituents best [inaudible 00:30:32] best for you communities? Would you say [inaudible 00:30:33]?

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (30:34)
Well, I don’t think that’s the… I think the question is what’s the evidence tell us? What’s the evidence tell us. If we have a widespread vaccinations that are over 99% effective, what’s the evidence basis for somebody to wear a mask or any of these restrictions? Now, we have suspended the fines on this. And so we’ve protected the people last summer on having that. But at the end of the day, the evidence tells us that we are over a year into this. People can act with normal order, but emergency orders, these extraordinary measures at this point are not justifiable. And I had mentioned, the states, ours is going away too, but we fashioned our school reopening around the emergency order. And so, that was basically the main reason why we’ve kept the state a state of emergency, because we want to be able to have in-person instruction, but also give the parents the ability who so choose to opt for virtual. If that’s what they want to do.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (31:32)
If we had not done that, then the school districts would have lost a lot of money. So we wanted to work with them, be flexible. And honestly, most of them, almost all of them responded very positively. And I think it’s been really, really good. But as soon as we get through the school year, as soon as we get into June when this bill starts to take effect, we really don’t have any more budgetary things to do at this point. I think the vaccines are so widely available. We do have a surplus of vaccines that have built up, that demand has not kept pace with supply, which I had said that a month ago, month and a half ago.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (32:06)
I said, we’re starting to get to where initially the demand far, far exceeded supply. As we did, we were doing 250, 300,000 a week. More seniors, more seniors every week. As we got into the end of February, you started to see a little bit of, I guess, the demand catch up with supply or the supply catch up with the demand. We then lowered the age to 60, lowered the age to 50. And then eventually at the beginning of April, opened it up to all adults or 16 or 18 and up depending on the vaccine. And I think we really did it in a way that track demand very effectively. But now, we’re at the point where we’ve done about 9 million folks. That’s a majority of the adult population in the state. Most of the people who haven’t gotten it are in the younger age groups. We obviously advocate that they do it, but it’s really about making sure folks get it.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (33:02)
They have the ability to. There’s certainly nobody at this point where there’s just not enough vaccine to go around. There is enough vaccine to go around. The vaccine data is fantastic. And you have to ask yourself if given that type of performance of the vaccine, given how great the monoclonal antibodies have done, which nobody ever talks about, but those have done very well. Given all that, if that’s still you need emergency powers under those circumstances, then when are you going to be able to move beyond it? And I think that as we’re seeing throughout the rest of the country, if cities are banning dancing at weddings or doing some of that stuff, that’s just so, so outside of what would be justifiable based on the evidence,

Speaker 7: (33:45)
Are a lot of large corporations still able to enforce mask policies? Not laws obviously, but policies that they enforce? I’m thing of [Inaudible 00:33:53]. Are they still able-

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (33:55)
So this bill… And that’s a good question. So this bill applies to government action. Obviously, the vaccine passport is kind of a little bit different. That applies across the board and it’s not really restricting business or government on that as much as it’s protecting you, saying you have a right to participate in society, regardless of that. But in terms of what like a supermarket or some of them choose to do, a Disney theme park, this does not deal with that one way or another. It’s simply emergency orders and emergency penalties on individuals, businesses. Now, like I said, we suspended the individual penalties over the summer. We’ve remitted all business penalties as of mid March, I think. And then on the next clemency, if anyone has outstanding, we are going to remit even more going forward.

Speaker 8: (34:47)
Governor, when will you be open the Capitol? Will you have it open in advance for a special session?

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (34:52)
I’ll ask Wilton that.

Speaker 8: (34:56)
[inaudible 00:34:56].

Senator Simpson: (34:56)
Thank you. And I believe it’s actually partially opened already, but I believe we tend to fully open for special session.

Speaker 9: (35:04)
Governor, I want to ask you quickly about the [inaudible 00:35:06] election still. [inaudible 00:35:07] partisan, completely unnecessary when as well as local officials do kind of [inaudible 00:35:13] completely unnecessary, including the head of the organization over at the Equal Elections [inaudible 00:35:18]. So why are they saying that?

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (35:21)
Man, I’d say a couple of things. One, when we took action in Palm Beach and Broward, there were people saying that wasn’t necessary, but that turned out to be the right decision. They ran very good elections, much better than they had the two years previously. If you look at what they did, having these private groups, these [inaudible 00:35:38] come in and spend millions of dollars to administer elections, like they did in Pennsylvania. That is totally unacceptable. And so, yes, that didn’t happen at the same level in Florida, as it did in some of these other states. But that’s a reason to take action before it happens. I think if you look at these mass mail balloting, we have absentee. It’s something that Florida has done a long time. It’s popular. Although, it fell out of favor a little bit with Republicans because of their concerns about the mail, but nevertheless, that’s set apart, but what you don’t want is mass mail balloting.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (36:11)
And so I think they put adequate protections in that. You request, you get. And I think that that was the appropriate thing. And then ballot harvesting. Look, if you want to bring your wife or your kid’s ballot, that’s fine. But to have political operatives bringing all these ballots like they do in California, that is a farce, and we’re not going to let that happen in the State of Florida. One person, one vote, not satchels of votes based on whether your political operative. So I think we did it right in 2020. We put a lot of effort into that because we knew. And if you think about it, 2020, we did 11 million votes by midnight, very transparent. Everyone saw, everyone was happy, but we also did the March Democrat presidential primary. Remember, there were people saying we should have canceled the election and panicked and let hysteria overtake us.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: (37:02)
And I said, no, we’re going to do it. We trust folks to do it safely. They did it safely. Then we had the August primary, same thing. Folks were saying, well, maybe we should… No, we’re going to do it. We have our system. We did it. And so, I think we conducted three elections under COVID, did it well. I think these reforms make sure that we’re ahead of the curve, but we would not have done the job we did in 2020 if we hadn’t taken action early, when I became governor. And if I working with Laura Lee, as well as the legislature, given us funding did not really lean into this because there was a lot of things that could’ve gone wrong. And I think we did it right. So we’re going to be signing that bill hopefully very soon. And I think the state will be better for it. Thanks, everybody.