May 6, 2020

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 6

Ron DeSantis Coronavirus Press Conference May 6
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsFlorida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 6

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on May 6. DeSantis unveiled a rapid-testing mobile lab that gives results in 45 minutes.

 

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Ron DeSantis: (00:16)
Good morning. It’s great to be back in South Florida. We have a couple real exciting announcements today as we continue to expand, not just diagnostic testing, but now serological testing. Last two days in Florida, the rate of new tests that came back positive two days ago was 2.6%, that’s as low as we’ve had really since the beginning of this. Yesterday was 3.8%, again, very, very low. There’s parts of this country that still are in the 40% of every one test that comes back positive. And you have other places where they’re in the 20s. National average I think is somewhere around 15. So this is continuous trends. I think we’ve had almost two weeks where we’ve been below 6 or 6.18, and it’s continued to trend good, so we appreciate that.

Ron DeSantis: (01:09)
If you look at the number of people that are on ventilators in the state of Florida, it’s down to 294. Here in Miami is 84. Those are lows from where we’ve been doing most of April. And there are over 6,300 ventilators throughout the state of Florida that are just not being used. And so, to be under 300 patients now with that, that’s a positive trend for us.

Ron DeSantis: (01:33)
Total, the state of Florida is close to having administered between state supported test sites, what the hospitals have done, what private labs have done, we’re close to inching up towards 500,000 tests administered since this began. In Miami, there’s already been over 100,000 tests administered, which is by far the most for any county in the state.

Ron DeSantis: (01:57)
Today though at Hard Rock Stadium, and this has been one of the most effective test sites that we’ve had in the state and probably in the country for the number of people that they brought through here, the tests that have been done here though are whether you are positive for COVID or not, which is obviously very important in terms of diagnostic testing. The problem is, is that you may be negative today and you could potentially catch it three days from now. So a diagnostic test is a snapshot in time.

Ron DeSantis: (02:27)
What we’re adding to this site here and then we’re going to add to other sites over the course of the week is serological testing. So we now have the ability to test for antibodies. Basically people that have had the disease, their body will generate antibodies to fight it and we can then test to see whether you have the antibodies. The good thing about it is, once the antibodies develop, if you test positive for the antibodies, it’s not like you’re going to lose the antibodies the next day. So this is very important, particularly for our first responders and our healthcare workers, to know who has the antibodies. We do believe, I think most people believe, that it will confer a certain level of immunity. They’re disagreeing about maybe how long, but I think that that’s probably the safest assumption.

Ron DeSantis: (03:16)
The FDA approved tests that Florida’s acquired, we have 200,000 and we have more on the way. But what it will do is it will tell people whether they’ve developed the antibodies within a 15 minute timeframe. You saw them doing the blood draw. They take blood, there’s a little strip that they put the blood in, they put some reagent in there and then you watch to see the results. And within 10 or 15 minutes you get the result either positive for the antibodies or negative for the antibodies.

Ron DeSantis: (03:49)
The first folks who are going to come through here are going to be the healthcare workers and the first responders just because they’re the most likely to have been exposed. But I think the strategy would be to expand that once we do these folks. We’ve also reached out to all the hospital systems and offered tests for them, so I know some of them have asked for it. Some of them are interested in doing it, and they’ll be able to do it to their workers at their hospitals without even them having to come here.

Ron DeSantis: (04:18)
This is also important for healthcare workers working at longterm care facilities. Very important to know who has antibodies and who doesn’t. We’re going to add locations in Orange County at the Orange County Convention Center, supplement the current diagnostic testing drive-in with an antibody lane. And then we’re going to do the same thing in Jacksonville. They’ve had a drive-through testing site there for a while now. We’re going to add a lane for antibodies and we’re going to look to expand beyond that.

Ron DeSantis: (04:47)
There is also, and we think it’s going to start happening next week, but the Florida Department of Health has been working for now weeks with one blood as people donate blood to try to determine how much antibodies are in the people that are donating blood. That’s a way to get a pretty powerful snapshot of data about how widespread antibodies are throughout the state of Florida.

Ron DeSantis: (05:09)
I know the mayor was involved with the University of Miami doing a serological study in Dade. I think that was really important information. You’ve seen other studies in Santa Clara, California, Los Angeles, New York has done a lot. So we want to get a sense of how widespread the antibodies are in the state of Florida. So this is important and I think we’re going to continue to need to do the antibody testing.

Ron DeSantis: (05:33)
We’re also excited to be able to debut the first ever mobile testing lab in the state of Florida. Jared Moscowitz, our division of emergency management director, was talking to Cepheid, and I think this may be the first of its kind for COVID doing the way that we’re doing it, but these are going to be mobile lab with rapid testing capability. So you’ll be able to take a sample, like you just saw done, bring it to the lab, and then within 45 minutes, just putting a cartridge in a machine, and then within 45 minutes you’re going to get the result, the diagnostic result.

Ron DeSantis: (06:10)
So that is not antibody, that is whether you’re positive for the coronavirus or not, but obviously that’s something that’s very, very important. So the lab is going to be run by StatLab. They’re going to have three shifts with three to four lab technicians working during each shift. So this has got to be round the clock. We’re going to be processing 500 tests a day just on the mobile testing site, and 3,500 a week. We’ve got the cartridges ordered. They’re going to keep sending them to us from Cepheid. And so we really believe that this will be a game changer.

Ron DeSantis: (06:44)
We have the national guard doing a lot of testing and the longterm care facilities. That’s very important. They’ve been able to identify some clusters and keep it from spreading, but it takes 24, 48 hours at least to get those results when you’re sending it to a private lab. Now, with this, we’re going to be able to go to longterm care facilities, get results back almost immediately, and then be able to, if there is a case, isolate the worker, isolate the resident appropriately. And that I think is going to be really, really positive for what we’re doing.

Ron DeSantis: (07:18)
You’re going to have 10 members of the Florida National Guard working on the mobile, working with the mobile lab, 10 contracted nurses. They’re going to be taking samples. They’re going to be handling the logistics. Our strategy with this is assisted living facilities, longterm care facilities. We’re starting right here in Miami-Dade County. Those will be the first facilities that have had the rapid test. The guard has visited a number of these facilities already and done the traditional lab based testing, but we think that this is good. So it’ll be more, probably a hub and spoke model, where you’ll go in a general area where there are multiple longterm care facilities. Then you’ll have people ferreting out to various facilities, getting samples, and then we’re able to run them through the test site. So we appreciate StatLab’s partnership and we look forward to a successful testing operation.

Ron DeSantis: (08:09)
We now, throughout the state of Florida, have 12 drive-through testing sites that the state is either directly supporting or the Florida National Guard is running. We also have 10 walk-up community sites, particularly in underserved communities to make sure that everyone has access to testing. So between the drive-through sites are responsible for 115,000 tests, and the walk-up community sites, even though they’ve only been online for a couple weeks, there are over 15,000 tests already. This Hard Rock site here has done over 20,000 tests. Just this one site, which is pretty incredible. The national guard strike teams for the nursing homes and longterm care facilities, they continue to test, test, test.

Ron DeSantis: (08:58)
Interesting, many times, there’s no COVID, but even when there is, it’s been a pretty low percentage. Total number of tests they’ve done in these longterm care facilities, the percent positive has been four percent. And these are areas where, if it’s there, it’s likely to really rapidly expand very quickly. So I think because they’re getting in, they’re identifying clusters, they’ve been able to keep it from spreading, like you’ve seen in some other areas. But that’s very proactive and they’re really working very hard to do that.

Ron DeSantis: (09:32)
We also have now companies like CVS and Walmart able to get into the fight. I relaxed the restrictions on the licensed pharmacists. They are now allowed to administer COVID-19 tests. So you have Walgreens, they have seven drive-through sites that they’re going to be setting up, and they have two of those in Miami-Dade County, so Opa-locka and then the city of Miami are each going to have Walgreens having one of these drive. So this just makes it easier for people because these are things that may be in the neighborhood and I think you’re going to continue to see CVS is going to roll out some more and Walmart is also going to roll out some more as well.

Ron DeSantis: (10:12)
Before we came out here, we went through in the back, we have, it’s based here at Hard Rock, the critical care decontamination system to clean the PPE. As many people know, this PPE was a major crunch, particularly in March. China had known what was going on. They specifically bought up a lot of this stuff really to try to screw over the rest of the world, which they’re going to need to pay for doing that. But we were fighting for PPE, Jared did a great job. So there’s more PPE going out now, but there’s still going to be a demand for this. And so, this decontamination system allows you to clean things like 95 masks, so it can decontaminate up to 80,000 masks per day, and it can decontaminate the same mask 20 times.

Ron DeSantis: (11:03)
It can decontaminate the same mask 20 times, so you’ll have hospital systems, they can send in 20, 30,000 whatever they have for mask, they can be decontaminated, and then, sent back a couple of days later. This is important to have because we don’t know what’s going to happen with the supply chain. I hope it ends up being better. We need to get a lot of this stuff back to being made in America. We should not be relying on China for all these important medical supplies, and that includes prescription drugs. I’ve spoken to some folks involved with things like pharmaceuticals, and told them, come to Florida, we have a good business environment. We would love to be able to manufacture that stuff here. That’s much safer for the American people, and really as a national security issue, having the ability though to decontaminate, that’s a level of protection in case you have other problems with the supply chain.

Ron DeSantis: (11:56)
By the end of this week, the state of Florida will have sent more than 25 million masks to longterm care hospitals, first responders, almost 10 million gloves, 1.6 million face shields, a million shoe covers, 450,000 gowns, 200,000 containers of hand sanitizer, 85,000 goggles and 38,000 coveralls, so this has been a massive logistic operation. Director Moskowitz has done a really, really good job. We early on acted understanding the longterm care facilities were the most vulnerable parts of our communities, and so, we did things like require PPE to be worn. Well, a lot of them did not have adequate PPE, so the state has supplied just to longterm care facilities more than 10 million masks, nearly a million gloves, half a million face shields, and 160,000 gowns.

Ron DeSantis: (12:53)
We were at the White House last week going over what Florida had done, and because we were so aggressive with the PPE, FEMA, doing what Florida did, they’re doing that nationwide. They’re also going to send to Florida’s longterm care facilities. We think that, that’s an important way to be able to protect the most vulnerable. I want to thank Jared for all his efforts in doing that. As of yesterday, the state… our five point plan to fight COVID has always been protect the vulnerable, expand testing, make sure that we’re protecting our healthcare workers, and our hospitals, social distancing, and prevent the introduction from outside of Florida, the virus’ introduction.

Ron DeSantis: (13:37)
We have now screened over 40,000 people coming from New York city area, or New Orleans, two hotspots. I think New Orleans is starting to do a lot better, which is good. Those are important. Those quarantines have been necessary to be able to prevent the spread from going forward. We also know, and I’ve talked with the mayor about this, a place like Miami, you constantly have international flights coming in here, so you got a place like maybe Brazil, if they have an outbreak going on, it’s problematic if people bring the virus to Miami. The president’s asked me, and we’re working on a plan to deal with this, and I think it’s got to be the airlines really need to be testing people prior to them getting on these planes if they’re from areas where there’s outbreaks.

Ron DeSantis: (14:25)
We’re working on that, we’re going to consult with Miami Dade about it, but I think that something needs to be done, because you may see some other places have more significant outbreaks over the next couple of months even if the United States is doing better. The last thing we want to do is having gone through this, and then, have more of it being seeded in to the country. 14 day moving average, we’ve seen a consistent decline in positivity rates. We’ve also seen a decline in new cases, even though the number of testing, amount tested has gone up dramatically, so that’s a good sign. We want to keep that momentum going.

Ron DeSantis: (15:02)
I would say if you look over the last week, the last week compared to two weeks ago, and look at Miami, obviously, there’re still issues here, but you have seen I think a good trend. There’s more work that needs to be done, but I think the mayor’s done a really good job here, and I know a lot of folks in the community have been working really hard. We’re going to hear from a few people. We’re going to let lieutenant governor come up. We’re going to have Jared Moskowitz. I’m going to have Mayor Gimenez, and then, the surgeon general come up and then, then we’ll take some questions.

Lieutenant Governor : (15:36)
Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here. Thank you governor for your leadership, mayor, you’ve been a tremendous partner. We appreciate all your work. Surgeon general, Director Moskowitz, all critical parts of battling COVID-19. What you heard from the governor obviously is that we are fast approaching almost half a million tests that have been conducted here in Florida, and that is a testament to the governor’s focus on expansion of testing. In fact, what you see here today is a testament to his focus on testing, but obviously making sure that we focus on not just rapid testing, which he talked about in the mobile lab. Also, the antibody testing that will really be able to confer what the immunity level is here in this county in particular.

Lieutenant Governor : (16:21)
But, this has been a multifaceted approach. The governor has laid out his priorities in battling COVID-19. This has been the state’s most significant response effort in the history of our state, and as we’ve seen these numbers, we’ve seen these trends. Again, I think Florida has led the way, not only in terms of expansion of testing, we’re consistently in the top three in the country for testing. We’ve also led the way in protecting the elderly. Governor DeSantis early on understood the challenges with nursing homes, assisted living facilities and longterm care facilities, and so, that is why early on we prohibited visitors, made sure that the screening of personnel, made sure that they had adequate PPE, so that was something that Florida led the way in.

Lieutenant Governor : (17:05)
He also outlined how Florida led the way in identifying those that were coming into Florida from other high outbreak states like the Tristate area, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and and Louisiana, and so, all of those aspects that Florida has led the way has really not only saved lives, but has allowed our hospitals to ensure that they had sufficient capacity, protect our healthcare workers, and again, the vulnerable, the elderly, those with underlying health conditions has been a continued focus, and what you see here today is the continued commitment from this governor leading the way, leading the charge in battling COVID-19.

Lieutenant Governor : (17:43)
We thank all of those healthcare workers, first responders, the national guard, everyone that’s been instrumental in helping us in this battle. We thank them, we appreciate them, and we know that we’re going to stand by them, and continue to support them as we continue to battle COVID-19. Thank you all.

Jared Moskowitz: (18:04)
Governor, thank you, lieutenant governor. Thank you mayor. I appreciate all of your assistance. You’ve been a real partner here in Dade county, which obviously has been ground zero for the state of Florida. I want to thank again the National Guard, all of Miami-Dade fire police, EMS, who have been really helping us in these operations, and just around the county, and around the state. I also want to thank all of the nurses, doctors, hospital workers, and all of the Dade hospitals. They’ve been on the front lines here, and they’ve done a fantastic job with an impossible task, and so, I just want to continue to mention them, because they deserve all of our praise.

Jared Moskowitz: (18:48)
We’re back here at the Hard Rock. Obviously, you’ll notice since the last time we were here, the lines look a lot different, and so, we’ve talked about our capacity to test. We have the capacity to test based on lab space, about 30,000 tests per day. We’re going to continue to open up new sites to make sure that people have access to testing, but obviously, as we continue to test more and more people, less and less people are coming to these sites, and we’ve seen that decline in the numbers. The governor mentioned obviously that, this has been the number one site in the state doing over 20,000 tests since the beginning. This lab behind us, the whole idea is we’re going to continue to look at new products, new innovations, different ways to test.

Jared Moskowitz: (19:34)
And so, the idea that this can go from site to site, we can send this in on an emergency basis, if we had to put it on the road to do emergency testing at a longterm care facility, or some other hotspot that that came up. That’s the whole point of this, is that it’s completely mobile. We’re bringing the lab to the situation. We’re going to look at other ways to test. Can we go by home testing and put that out in different facilities, so long as the home testing is up to the same sort of standards? And so, we’re examining all sorts of different ways to try to make this easier to bring the test to the patient, and decrease obviously response times, and that’s what our partnership here with Statlab, and [inaudible 00:20:17] is doing with the 45 minute rapid test.

Jared Moskowitz: (20:21)
The governor mentioned obviously that we’ve done 25 million masks. By the end of this week we’ll be at 10 million masks specifically for the longterm care facilities, and we’re also by the end of this week have sent a million masks to the Department of Corrections, which is obviously extremely important, so we’re happy to partner with Secretary Inch to make sure that he has the supplies that he needs. We got another site that’ll be opening in Dade county shortly at Miami Beach that’ll be both a drive through, and a walkup site in Miami Beach and we look forward to getting that up and running. I know Mayor Gelber has been looking forward to that, and appreciate his assistance, and his leadership.

Jared Moskowitz: (20:58)
Obviously, as we get into hurricane season we are continuing obviously to look at our plans, redevelop them with COVID-19, how do we look at evacuations? How do we do that? Do we have stay at home orders, and mandatory evacuations based on the type of structure? We always talk about, know your zone, what type of zone evacuation zone you live in, but now also it’s really know your home, know your zone. If your home was built after 2002, and has up to date code, perhaps you don’t have to evacuate depending upon the strength of the storm. Congregate, sheltering, mass congregate sheltering, how do we do that? What are the protocols? Temperature checks, separating people, or perhaps we go away from that completely, and go to non-congregate sheltering in hotels.

Jared Moskowitz: (21:44)
We’ve been talking to FEMA almost daily about that planning. They’ve been a real partner in that, making sure that obviously we’re looking at all of our standard operating procedures. We have a lot of experience here in Florida, especially over the last four years, but how do we change that? How do we modify it to take COVID-19 and the challenges that, that poses, especially if we have an earlier storm in the June…

Jared Moskowitz: (22:03)
… challenges that that poses, especially if we have an earlier storm in the June and July season. So we’re talking to all sorts of different experts, not just obviously current administrator Pete Gaynor, but Craig Fugate, Administrator Long, previous Administrator Long. And so it’s an all options on the table.

Jared Moskowitz: (22:20)
And as far as PPE is concerned, with hurricane season, we’re creating all sorts of reserves. So as we’re getting this PPE out into the field to serve today’s needs, we’re creating all sorts of reserves. We’re going to have 10 million masks in reserve by the time hurricane season starts and we signed a long-term deal with Honeywell to help get us 12 million N95 masks over the next year, directly from the manufacturing plant, with a significant portion of that being delivered during hurricane season.

Jared Moskowitz: (22:47)
So Governor, thank you. Lieutenant Governor, thank you. Appreciate all your assistance. Mayor?

Mayor Gimenez: (22:56)
Thank you, Director Moscowitz. And really, I’m here to express my gratitude to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Director Moscowitz, and the Surgeon General for all the help that they’ve given us here in Miami Dade County. I don’t think there’s anything that we’ve asked of the governor and the state that they haven’t provided us in this fight against COVID-19. I’m extremely grateful for the decontamination room that’s in there. That will decontaminate 80,000 masks a day, the N95 masks, to make sure that our healthcare workers have the protective gear that they need. I also am completely in agreement with the governor that, as hotspots occur in foreign countries, before they get on a plane to come to Miami or the state of Florida, they should be tested. And those that come up positive should not be allowed to be on the plane, because we don’t need to get seeded from out from outside of Florida.

Mayor Gimenez: (23:51)
The governor already expressed some of the good news of the state of Florida. There are similar results here in Miami Dade County. We have less than a hundred people on our respirators today in Miami Dade County. That’s the first time we’ve seen that in quite some time. We have thousands of beds that are open. We have hundreds of ICU beds. We have close to a thousand respirators actually available here in Miami Dade County. So the trend is good.

Mayor Gimenez: (24:15)
And so we’re formulating plans of how we can open up the economy here in Miami Dade, and then of course that’ll be given to the governor so we get his blessing before we make any announcements along with the governor, how we can start to open up the economy here in Miami Dade.

Mayor Gimenez: (24:33)
And so I’m here just to express my gratitude. I think there’s some good news. We need to start opening up this area of the state, as the governor has started to open up other areas of state of Florida, and we need to get back to a new normal. The new normal won’t be the old normal. It’ll be a new normal, but we’re heading in that direction.

Mayor Gimenez: (24:52)
Again, express my gratitude. Thank you for your leadership, Governor, Lieutenant Governor. Thank you. And Director Moscowitz and, of course, the Surgeon General. They’ve been guiding us each and every step of the way on this process. And again, from the people of Miami Dade, thank you very much.

Speaker 3: (25:14)
Thank you, Governor Desantis, Lieutenant Governor Nunez, Director Moscowitz, and Mayor Gimenez. First, I’d like to express my sympathy to the families and those who’ve been touched by COVID-19. I’m especially proud of the dedication of the members of the Department of Health and those of our fellow agencies and those who are working on this fight back at the Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. Especially proud of the healthcare providers who’ve mounted a tremendous response against COVID-19. And most of all, I want to thank the Floridians, those of you who have played your role, an important part in helping us to battle COVID-19.

Speaker 3: (25:52)
As the governor mentioned, we’ve had five major pillars in the fight against COVID-19. Testing is absolutely one of these major pillars. And today, it is refreshing to see that we now bring Department of Health laboratories, laboratories that offer the most sophisticated tests for detection of COVID-19 to where individuals need to be tested.

Speaker 3: (26:15)
This mobile unit we see behind us complements the thousands of tests that are being performed every day. Today, we will also be able to get a snapshot of the seropositivity, which is reflection of the numbers of individuals who have been affected by COVID-19.

Speaker 3: (26:32)
The test that we are using right now measures antibodies against COVID-19. It measures two antibodies, one which is called IgM and another one which is called IgG. IgM is the antibody which appears first, typically within a week of infection, and IgG typically will appear at about two weeks.

Speaker 3: (26:53)
We are testing initially our first responders and healthcare providers because these are the individuals who are on the front line. As the governor mentioned, we are also working with OneBlood to randomly test the blood supply. This will give us a snapshot throughout the entire state as to the number of individuals who may have COVID-19.

Speaker 3: (27:14)
Again, we should also mention that testing also goes hand in hand with what we call contact tracing. Contact tracing means identifying individuals who have COVID-19, identifying who their contacts are, and having those individuals isolate. This is a way that we actually stop the cycle of transmission from person to person, and this is something that we have in place. We’ve been doing this in the very beginning and are continuing to expand.

Speaker 3: (27:45)
Collectively, these efforts are all adding to our fight against COVID-19 to keep the public safe and to keep you and your family safe as well. Thank you.

Ron DeSantis: (27:58)
Well, thanks to everybody. As I think many of you know, Monday, Florida started phase one of our safe, smart step-by-step approach for Florida’s recovery. We followed the White House gating requirements that was put out by the President’s task force, which was the decline in ILI activity, downward trend for 14 days, syndromatic indicator decline for 14 days, a decline in either total cases positive or case positivity, and then making sure you have enough healthcare resources in case there was any type of surge of patients.

Ron DeSantis: (28:37)
So the state of Florida as a whole, even including Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, satisfied the gating requirements. The task force proved that, and we move forward now. Because you look at how the epidemic has developed differently in these three counties down here versus the rest of the state, I consulted with Mayor Gimenez, the other appropriate officials in Palm Beach and Broward, about what would phase one look like. And they were doing last week some very important announcements on parks, marinas, golf courses. And so they want to see how that’s going.

Ron DeSantis: (29:13)
We’re now going to be in discussions about the next step for these three counties. I think that there has been a lot of positive movement. I looked at Broward as well. You can definitely see the decline. You see Miami, I think Miami was 19 or 20% of the cases were positive, when we first test, were positive. Now, I think it’s down to like 13%, and it’s been in the single digits in terms of percent positive, I think, in the at least number in these last few days. Broward, Palm Beach, they’re now down to 10% positivity for the whole time. Obviously the most recent tests are probably under 10%.

Ron DeSantis: (29:50)
So there’s been good trends. There’s been a lot of great work done in all three of these counties. We want to be safe about it and we want to be smart, and it is going to be a step-by- step process. It’s not just flipping a switch. But I do believe that, for Florida to be successful, we need our Southern Florida communities to be successful. Miami is an incredible engine for the state of Florida, same with Broward and Palm Beach.

Ron DeSantis: (30:14)
And so we’re going to work together with the local officials, and then we’re going to craft an appropriate way forward. But I do think that the other 64 counties were in really good shape, relative to the predictions for sure. And I think they’re approaching in a very safe way.

Ron DeSantis: (30:34)
The first phase is not terribly different from what we’ve been doing anyways. People have been going to grocery stores, all this stuff. There have been retail like Home Depot. So now you go to maybe a different retailer, a reduced capacity. Now, instead of waiting in line at Publix, you can sit outside at a restaurant six feet away. So these are small, cautious steps.

Ron DeSantis: (30:56)
You can do elective surgeries now, which really I think is long overdue. So that is in place in Dade as well. That is going to be really important for health, safety, and welfare of people. So it’s not like it’s a sea change phase one. These are cautious steps, but I think they’re steps that we need to take. So we’ll hopefully be able to go forward soon in Southern Florida, and I think that we can look to South Florida to really help lead Florida back. So I look forward to working with Mayor Gimenez and other folks down here.

Ron DeSantis: (31:27)
And with that, we’re happy to take a few questions. Yes, ma’am.

Speaker 4: (31:31)
[inaudible 00:31:31] unemployment website continues to have problems. What do you say to those people who are applying to get the benefits?

Ron DeSantis: (31:35)
So what we’ve done on unemployment, I did a brief on this on Monday, and we went through. Really, this is a website that was in dire straits. We’ve now launched an IG investigation about how this was acquired and all the money spent. That was before I was governor. This was in 2011 through like 2016. So there’s a lot of problems with it.

Ron DeSantis: (31:55)
But there’s been a lot of engineering that’s been done. So now you’ve processed over 800,000 claims. Just yesterday, they did another 50,000, 60,000 payments. What they’re trying to do over the weekends is take down the Connect interface, allow people to apply through the Pega site, so that they can use it to process. So they processed between 400,000 and 500,000 payments just this past weekend. They did 400,000 the weekend before. So we’re going to do that more, but then trying to get as many on the weekdays while people are on the system as you can. So there’s been a lot of work put into it. Money is going out. We’ve had folks who have come to the media and said they were having problems. We have the agency go look at those. I will just say a lot of those issues, there’s maybe a missing social security number, maybe the employer is contesting the unemployment. So there are those issues that obviously need to be right before the claim will be paid. So the agency’s happy to work with folks if they’re having problems. But if you’re filling out an application, just make sure everything’s there, particularly social secur-

Ron DeSantis: (33:03)
… Application, just to make sure everything’s there, particularly social security number because that has to be verified under federal law, otherwise you’re not able to do any benefits. Yes sir?

Speaker 6: (33:11)
[inaudible 00:33:14].

Ron DeSantis: (33:28)
Absolutely. What I told my task force for reopening Florida is we need to dispense with this idea that some jobs are essential and some jobs are not essential. At the end of the day, if you’re a business owner that some government official terms non-essential, I can tell you it’s essential for you. It’s essential that you’re putting food on the table, the people you employ, it’s essential for them so nobody is not essential. We’re looking at it in terms of how do we reduce risk from various occupations, and so the barbers and the hair, I went to Orlando, met with the county mayor there. He had a number of businesses that they have great ideas, so we’re putting together a set of safety requirements. But I told my folks, we have a responsibility to get to. Yes, we can insist on safety and that’s what we’re doing and we’re being cautious, but we can’t just say no. You’ve got to figure out a way to get there.

Ron DeSantis: (34:26)
So I would tell those folks we’re working on it. We hope to have something as soon as possible, but I really believe that if somebody is able to conduct their business in a way that’s low risk, governments shouldn’t be restricting them. So we’re getting close on that. We’re looking at some of the other things, but whatever you’re in business in, if we can simply make it so that it’s safe and the risk is low, then you need to be able to go back. So that’s the path we’re taking. We are being very cautious and measured. We’re consulting a lot of physicians. When I was in Orlando over the weekend, we had the health department physician, and we had a physician from in town and one of the big hospitals and they were talking about the protections that could be done that would make it low risk.

Ron DeSantis: (35:14)
I think all these barbershop owners and salon owners, they want it … I mean, they can’t afford for it not to be safe. They need it to be safe. And I’ve also asked people, has there been outbreaks in Florida related to that? Because remember all these salons and stuff, they were all open through most of March, and I don’t know that they’ve been … That they’ve actually sparked the outbreaks because I think the folks have been taking precautions from the very beginning. So we want to go forward in a safe way, but just simply saying no is not acceptable. So I would say everyone understand, I know how important it is to get people back. Yes ma’am?

Speaker 7: (36:09)
[ inaudible 00:35:57].

Ron DeSantis: (36:10)
Mayor, you want to address?

Speaker 8: (36:26)
We don’t look the other way. And so Miami Dade Police goes out and does over 1,000 inspections a day. Our inspectors go out and do over 1,000 inspections a day. And what we found is a very, very high, a number of compliance and the ones that aren’t complying simply just saying, “Hey, you’ve got to do this.” They will comply. And as the governor said, we want to open up as fast as we can. We’re working on the way that we can open up, even barbershops for God’s sakes. I need one. I know that. Okay, and so we’re doing that as quickly as we can, but always putting safety first. We’ll put our recommendations before the governor, say this is the way we’d like to do it and then hopefully we can do that as quickly as possible.

Speaker 8: (37:11)
No look, people are saying that they’re going to open up with a date. There’s no date. All right? That that date. We’ll let you know when we say these things can happen, that’s when they can happen, but we’re not … We’re not here in the business of trying to keep you closed. All the work that we’ve been doing, you know in Miami Dade and I know in the state is how do you get all these things open safely? Reduce the risk, which by the way doesn’t mean it’s zero risk, right? There is going to be some risk but reduce it to the point where the level of contagion is always, always below our level to be able to treat patients that may become positive.

Ron DeSantis: (37:52)
SAnd I’d also say, I mean, I am desperately in need of a haircut like so I know people are eager. I find it fascinating how some of the people I see on TV that are the most vociferous about not allowing anything open, always have a close cut haircut. How does that work? Does their hair just stop growing during a pandemic or are they violating the rules? There’s some people out there that are elite that think rules for everybody else, but that they shouldn’t follow it. And I think people are tired of that. Glenna?

Ron DeSantis: (38:52)
Not necessarily. I mean, right. So I mean if Miami’s making better, then you have a major outbreak in Palm Beach, should Miami be held back? And no, we’ve tended to look at them as similar. But I think anyone who lives down here, I mean there’s a world of difference between Miami and Palm Beach. The three counties are very diverse so, so no, we wouldn’t hold them to that. I think we basically had just looked at the general trends and then talk to all the local officials and they just basically were saying, “We want to get there. We’re eager to get there, but we’re probably not quite ready.” And our assessment was you could make the case that they were ready, just because phase one is a pretty small step, but we’ve worked in concert together the whole time.

Ron DeSantis: (39:38)
I think you’ve got to work. It’s a team effort. It’s a bottom up process and we want them to continue to do that. What also happen though is even Miami Dade County has got so many different moving parts. Just because you move into phase one, it’s not like we’re not going to continue to fight this virus. I mean, the surgeon general can tell you if there’s not virus in a certain community, all of a sudden you see a cluster, you’re sending people in from the health department, they’re doing contact tracing. People will be isolated as appropriate. Obviously we have to continue doing as much as we can for our vulnerable population, particularly the nursing homes. So you’re going to be doing that.

Ron DeSantis: (40:15)
I can tell you outside of these three counties, whenever we see an uptick in cases, it’s either a reporting dump where cases had been backlogged, a prison that’ll have 20, 30, or when you have a nursing home. So those are discrete problems. We’ve worked hard to obviously address the longterm care facilities, but all that is going to continue to go. And I think that there’s sometimes people out there saying either force everyone to stay in their house infinitum or do nothing, and that’s ridiculous. Obviously we’re still going to be fighting very hard. But I think we also have to look at the data and look at the facts. In Florida, 60% of the fatalities have been aged 75 or over, and if you look under 25, we have not yet had a fatality.

Ron DeSantis: (41:04)
So those are important facts to be able to tailor the response to the areas that are most vulnerable and the demographics that are most vulnerable. You see us doing that here today with the mobile testing unit. They’re going to be able to take this out, get results in real time for folks working and who are residents of longterm care facilities, and just the extra day or two to get the results could be the difference of preventing a significant spread and saving lives. And so we’re happy to be able to do it. I’m going to be back soon down here. This is very important that Miami continues to do what it’s been doing and we’re going to continue to work hand in hand with Mayor Gimenez and all the local leaders. Thanks everybody. Already, just in the course of this press conference, we have a negative result.