Dec 14, 2020
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 14
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on December 14. Read the transcript here.
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Ron DeSantis: (00:08)
… and Dr. Lockwood and some other folks at the loading dock, when the first vaccines were received in the State of Florida. They’ll also, they’ve also been received at Broward Memorial and UF Shands in Jacksonville. Tomorrow, Jackson Memorial in Miami will receive it shipment, as well as Advent Health in Orlando. I had also the privilege to be able to actually sign for the vaccines from FedEx. We watched them unload. We saw them put it into the deep freeze. The Pfizer requires -70 degrees, but what we’ll have by tomorrow morning is almost 100, 000 doses for our these five hospital systems.
Ron DeSantis: (00:48)
When the vaccine plans were being rolled out by Operation Warp Speed, we were told we could select five systems in the State of Florida for the first round. I think the reason they did that was they didn’t want to have massive numbers of hospitals, if there were problems, the problems would be exacerbated. This is a beta test. They wanted to run it through, make sure things were running smoothly, which knock on wood, they have so far. Then, as we get into the next weeks of distribution, you’ll start to see it go. We were really happy to be able to select Tampa General as one of those places.
Ron DeSantis: (01:23)
Throughout this whole pandemic, they’ve really leaned forward, and were always one step ahead of, I think where a lot of other folks were. More recently in November, it didn’t get as much play as the vaccine, but when we had EUA approval for the monoclonal antibody for Eli Lilly, a lot of folks were worried about whether hospitals would even want to do it. If you do transfusion and you have other sick patients, you don’t want them to get COVID, so how’s it going to happen? We were concerned about that. We thought about setting up centers in Florida, have some of our COVID-only facilities, nursing homes or something set up to handle it.
Ron DeSantis: (01:59)
I called John Couris, here at Tampa General, and he’s like, “We are all set up for it. Thanks for helping us get it.” They’ve been administering it and it’s been very, very effective. We also have Regeneron that’s now been approved as well. We didn’t have to do, all we had to do was help to get the drugs here. They were ready to go. Always creative. Then, when the vaccine was, the news about Pfizer and we had a timeframe and John is like, “We’re ready. We’re going to be here to serve the people of Florida.”
Ron DeSantis: (02:29)
Of course, they’re going to focus on these high-contact, frontline healthcare workers in this round, but they’re getting enough vaccine here at Tampa General, nearly 20,000 doses that they have far more than they would need for just that group of people. We went to all five of those systems and we said, “Look, we had to pick five. You guys have done a great job, but we have other systems that have done a great job as well. Can you work collaboratively with them so that if the Tampa General employees are getting it, you could also go to BayCare and some of these other places here in the Tampa Bay area, if Jackson Memorial can do some of the other systems down in Miami.
Ron DeSantis: (03:03)
Every single one of them said, “Absolutely, it’s a team effort. We’re all going to work together.” So, you will be seeing folks at Tampa General with this shipment, being vaccinated. But you also, this week, see employees from some of these other areas, the other hospitals be vaccinated. You have 100,000, almost 100, 000 this week for that. We also have about 60,000 going to CVS and Walgreens for the long-term care mission.
Ron DeSantis: (03:30)
Then, the state is going to receive tomorrow, about 20,000. We are going to supplement the long-term care mission. We have expeditionary capability. We are going to be working really hard to serve those most vulnerable populations. But, today was really a historic day. When I was at the White House last week, during the Operation Warp Speed Summit, I was there with some other governors. They actually did a montage of people on things like cable news saying, “There is no way we will have a vaccine by year end. It’s going to take two years or three years or whatnot.”
Ron DeSantis: (04:04)
You know what, that probably was the smart money. I mean, you say. But here we are, less than a year, much less than a year these vaccines have already been administered in great Britain and Canada. They’re now going to be administered here in the United States. This is a really, really significant milestone in terms of combating the coronavirus pandemic. I know that as we get into the end of this week, I’ve spoken with the FDA commissioner, Steven Hahn. They’re going to do the same thing with the Moderna approval that they did with the Pfizer approval.
Ron DeSantis: (04:37)
Moderna, the advisory committee will meet on Thursday to discuss the issues with Moderna. We anticipate a favorable recommendation for that. Then FDA will work, hopefully through the night to be able to get the EUA issued on Friday of this week. Then, we’re in the same schedule that we had with Pfizer. The shipments will be arranged. We’ll start receiving those hopefully Sunday, Monday, Tuesday of the following week. That’s going to be in Florida a little less than 400,000, we anticipate, I think about 365,000 of Moderna, which is a significant amount. That is going to continue to help serve our longterm care mission, but also start hopefully as the frontline healthcare workers have this available, to start getting it out to some of the elderly population outside of long-term care facilities.
Ron DeSantis: (05:29)
Then, certainly by the third week of December, when we get even more Moderna, we hope to be able to really start to offer that. Then in January, if the supplies keep coming, we want as many elderly to be able to get it as possible. Now, the one thing we’re waiting on, in the initial plan for the Pfizer, we are going to get 179,000 this week. But then we were going to get several hundred thousand each the next two weeks of the Pfizer. Right now, we don’t know. They have dialed it back. I think they’re working through some production issues.
Ron DeSantis: (06:02)
We anticipate the Moderna coming at the end of, at the beginning of next week, between 300 and 400,000 doses. We’re hoping that the Pfizer order is fulfilled for the next two weeks beyond what we’re getting today and tomorrow. If we get all of that, as scheduled, then that’s a, probably more than 1,000, 000 doses. If we don’t get the remaining Pfizer, then we’re looking at probably 700 to 750,000 for the month of December. Either way, it’s going to make an impact. But obviously we want to see as much of this rolling off the assembly line and getting into hospitals as we can, in terms of this.
Ron DeSantis: (06:41)
We were able to see how they’re storing it. They have the capability of storing an awful lot of vaccine, far more than they got today. They can store a lot of these vials. So, as this stuff becomes more widely available on Pfizer, this is obviously a place we know that can handle it. The good thing about the Moderna, it doesn’t require quite as extraordinary of storage and then the J&J vaccine, which we hope will happen in the new year, either January or February, that is just basic refrigeration and it’s one dose. The vaccines that were delivered today, for every vaccine that hits, there’s a corresponding booster that is being withheld.
Ron DeSantis: (07:20)
They didn’t want to send it all, I think smartly, because you don’t want to just keep 200,000 vaccines and tell someone they can’t get it. You’re going to use that, and then when it’s time for the booster, 21 days, those other shots will come and that they can be given the booster shot for this. This is a game-changer. It’s a great day for the United States. It’s a great day for the State of Florida. I’m really glad that we were here in Tampa General to do it. Of course, we continue to work with them across a variety of issues. We think these monoclonal antibodies have been very effective. It’s going to take a little while to get the hard data on it. As it stands now, between November 1st and December 12th, Florida was 43rd in per capita cases.
Ron DeSantis: (08:04)
42 states had higher per capita caseloads between December 6th and 12th. We were 46th per capita. Again, 45 states with higher loads and then hospitalized patients as of December 13th, the last date we have full nationwide data, Florida was 43rd per capita for COVID-positive patients being treated in Florida hospitals. Again, 42 states with higher loads than us. So, we think that we’re getting this at a good time. We think if we get it to the right folks who are the more likely to be hospitalized, that we can continue to keep those numbers in line. I just want to thank everyone for all their hard work. This has been something that we’ve been working on for, for weeks and weeks.
Ron DeSantis: (08:50)
As soon as the Pfizer news came out, I flew to DC. I met with as many key players as I could. We’re in contact on a daily basis with Operation Warp Speed. So far, things have gone very well. It’s a very significant logistical challenge for the federal government and so far, things have gone well. I know, once it gets in the hands of Tampa General, they’re going to continue to do a really good job. Today, we will have shots going in arms. We will have healthcare workers getting vaccinated much sooner than anybody would have anticipated just six months ago. God bless America. I’d like to introduce John Couris now.
John Couris: (09:33)
Thank you Governor. On behalf of Tampa General Hospital and the entire team, I want to thank the Governor and the entire State Legislature, the leaders, the staff. What you may not realize is that through the governor’s leadership, the state has been with us every single step of the way, from the very beginning of this pandemic. Not just Tampa General, but all of the hospitals in this great state. I’d also like to thank the federal government, because this morning at about 10 o’clock in the morning, we received the Federal Express packages and the FedEx truck pulled right up like it would normally do. It had a delivery time at 10:30 and it came 30 minutes early. It came in at 10 o’clock.
John Couris: (10:21)
To have that kind of logistical precision happen across this country is absolutely outstanding. When you’re on the front lines, when you’re caring for patients, when you’re managing an organization through something like this, to have the type of leadership and cooperation at the state and federal level is critically important. Thank you Governor, for your leadership and your entire team’s efforts. The next thing I’d like to comment on is that this is truly a historic moment. I mean, just think about it. Less than a year ago, we were confronted with this awful pandemic. Today, we’re sitting here, introducing right now, about 20,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
John Couris: (11:09)
The way I’ve described it to my team is, this is 20,000 doses of hope. This is the beginning to the end. This is monumental if you’re sitting in our shoes, caring for the patients that need us the most. Finally, this is game time. We’re ready. As the Governor said, Tampa General Hospital has the resources, has the staff, has the supplies, now has the vaccine. We are ready and it is absolutely game time. We will not let down this community. We will not let down our team, and we’re honored to be one of the hospitals leading this effort. Thank you very much.
John Couris: (11:55)
Now, I’d like to introduce Jared Moskowitz, the Director of Emergency Management and the way I would describe Jared, and I’ve used this a few times with other people, if I was in a foxhole, I’d want Jared right next to me in that foxhole. This guy is steady under pressure and has done an incredible job with his team to help us navigate through all of the complexities that we were confronted with for almost a year. With that, Jared come on up.
Jared Moskowitz: (12:28)
Okay. No pressure now. John, thank you. Governor, thank you. It really is a miracle to be here today, to helping administer vaccines less than a year of dealing with this pandemic. It is a tribute to the frontline healthcare workers who are going to be the first recipients of the vaccine, the heroes that have been on the front lines, dealing with this every single day. It’s a bittersweet moment for families who have lost loved ones to the pandemic or families who have had folks in hospitals and have not been able to visit them. It really has been a collective team effort. I want to obviously thank Tampa General.
Jared Moskowitz: (13:15)
I want to thank the other four hospitals that are ready to go to help distribute this vaccine. We really, at the Division of Emergency Management and our partners at the Department of Health, have been aggressive since day one. When we couldn’t find COVID test kits, we went out in the private market and found them. When there was a national shortage on swabs, we went out and we found them nationally, internationally. When PPE became the issue, we did everything we could to make sure that our doctors and nurses had the PPE that they needed, that our folks in the long-term care facilities had the PPE they needed. Over 80 million masks have been distributed from the Division of Emergency Management.
Jared Moskowitz: (14:00)
While, this is not the end. We have a long way to go. Obviously, it’s going to take a little bit to get this out. We will continue to be aggressive. Folks continue to do mitigation measures as we get through this. But, we’re hoping at the Division that as that supply comes, you will see a significant, robust effort between ourselves and the hospitals and the local partners that are at our counties. I know my staff, the staff at the Department of Health, this is a big day for them. This is a big day for every emergency manager at the local level, at the state level, every Surgeon General in the country. Everything we have worked for since March has been building to this moment. So, thank you, Governor. Thank you, John, for having us here today and we continue to look forward to the partnership With Tampa General.
Speaker 4: (14:55)
Dr. Lockwood: (15:01)
Well, I will be very brief. I also want to thank the Governor. It’s hard to describe when you’re at that darkest moment of the pandemic, back in March and April and May, what a relief it was when we would need anything, you seemed to be able to deliver it. PPE was one. Remdesivir, then the monoclonal antibodies that have made a huge difference. Now, the vaccine. We’re incredibly grateful, obviously USF and Tampa General, our team, and John, you have also been extraordinary. We’re very grateful for that. This is a magic moment. I was trying to recall something equivalent and I thought back to when I was a kid and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
Dr. Lockwood: (15:54)
From a healthcare perspective, this is our magic Neil Armstrong moment. This hopefully, is the beginning of the end of this terrible pandemic. I would not be the Dean of the Medical School if I didn’t tell everyone to keep … we’re in the fourth quarter. We’re in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. We have Brady as our quarterback. Please keep wearing a mask, socially distancing, avoid large gatherings. When people aren’t doing that, it is incredibly important. We’re almost there, but this Herculean effort is going to really make a huge difference and we will have a return to normality very quickly. I think Dr. Kim is going to speak briefly.
Dr. Kim: (16:42)
Thank you very much. I’m really, really honored and excited to be here. Thank you to the Governor, Mr. Couris, Mr. Moscowitz, Dean Lockwood, and truly, this is a thrilling day. We’re very proud of our teamwork here, and this vaccine coming out is a real triumph of science and teamwork and what the best minds can do. I was one of those supposed experts that was hopeful, but a little skeptical six months ago, and I’m so delighted to be proven wrong. I think that all of us should, as Dean Lockwood said, hang in there, continue to do everything that we can to protect our families and our communities and work with all of us here in the healthcare field to help our communities and get out of this terrible pandemic. But [inaudible 00:00:17:35], it’s a very exciting day and a vaccine that’s 95% efficacious in such a short time is truly a miracle of science. Thank you very much.
Ron DeSantis: (17:50)
Today, we are obviously going to start with the healthcare, frontline healthcare workers and P some people ask why, because most of the people that work here and that, they’re not necessarily high risk from a health perspective. It’s more high risk because you’re in contact a lot. But part of the reason quite frankly, is hospital bed capacity has never been an issue, in spite of initial models saying that America was going to run out. But what happens is if you have an exposure, you have an infection and you have to have 10 staff isolate, that is a very difficult in terms of these operations, not just for COVID for anything. Part of it is health. Obviously, we want everyone to be protected, but part of it is getting these key workers vaccinated, you’re going to ensure that healthcare’s going to be delivered uninterrupted, not just for COVID, but for many other things, which are very, very pressing.
Ron DeSantis: (18:38)
We look forward to doing that. I would just tell the general public, the healthcare workers are, there’s a certain finite amount who would qualify and who are going to want to take it. Obviously, we have a certain number of, well, we have more long-term care facilities here than most other states, of course. That’s a finite number and obviously many will take it, not everyone. Then, we really are going to start focusing on the most at-risk folks in the general population, our seniors, our elderly folks that have really serious, usually two or more comorbidities.
Ron DeSantis: (19:12)
That’s what’s, when we get beyond the healthcare phase, when we get through the long-term care, that’s really where you’re going to see a lot of the emphasis. Now, if you’re just general public, not necessarily high-risk, but maybe you’d want to do it, I think where we’re going to be seeing that is once the Johnson and Johnson data is in, we’ll see how effective that is. They, if effective and safe, they will file for emergency use authorization, probably in January. We could potentially see an approval for J&J. That is one dose.
Ron DeSantis: (19:45)
There’s a lot of it that’s been produced. As we get into that, if that does happen, of course, there’s going to be more Moderna and Pfizer, which required the two doses. But as we get into potentially February, you could be in a situation where there’s going to be vaccine for people, regardless of circumstances or health risks or age. Probably not before that, and maybe not quite at that point, but that is very possible. We’re just going to keep communicating and let folks know what we’re doing.
Ron DeSantis: (20:13)
But yeah, if you look at how the virus has affected different populations, clearly it’s had a much more negative impact on folks who are very elderly than people who are very young. So, we’re trying to prioritize the folks that it can make the most impact for. We’re going to continue to stay on it. We’re in this, we’re going to be working with John and working with all these other healthcare systems. They’ve really done a great job for the State of Florida. They’ve worked collaboratively, long before the vaccine, on a whole host of other issues. That wasn’t always the case, I think, normally because they’re competitors, but they understood this is an important time.
Ron DeSantis: (20:49)
They’ve done a great job. We’re happy to be here today. Look, talk is cheap. Yeah. We saw FedEx deliver it. We’re saying how great it is, but let’s actually get some shots in arms. I’m happy to say that you’re going to see the first shot done right here, right now. You guys ready to go? We’re going to come. This is, I guess, patient zero for the State of Florida as it comes to a vaccine. We have Raphael Martinez, will be administering the vaccine to Vanessa Arroyo. Vanessa is a frontline nurse in our brand new Taneja Family Emerging Disease Institute, which is their COVID unit. She’s 31 years old, has been working at Tampa General for eight years. We appreciate all her hard work. Thanks for being willing to step up and be the first patient, and this is exciting.
Speaker 7: (21:52)
Can you, hold on. Can you-
Speaker 8: (21:52)
Turn the camera, so-
Speaker 7: (21:57)
Go straight out.
Ron DeSantis: (21:58)
Can you just explain what you’re doing? I can do it with the mic, but you’re just this basic shot, is there anything special for this vaccine, compared to other things you would administer?
Raphael Martinez: (22:06)
It will be just like the flu vaccine.
Ron DeSantis: (22:16)
Speaker 7: (22:16)
Is she okay?
Raphael Martinez: (22:16)
Speaker 10: (22:16)
Ron DeSantis: (22:49)
Raphael Martinez: (22:56)
Then we ask the patient, did it hurt?
Vanessa Arroya: (22:58)
Raphael Martinez: (22:58)
Ron DeSantis: (22:59)
Piece of cake. All right.
Raphael Martinez: (22:59)
Ron DeSantis: (23:03)
Thanks everybody. Appreciate it.
Speaker 7: (23:04)
Awesome. Thank you.
Ron DeSantis: (23:10)
[inaudible 00:23:10] for all your hard work.
Speaker 7: (23:10)
All right. Great job.
Speaker 12: (23:10)
Great job, man.
Speaker 13: (23:10)
Can we talk to, can we ask her-
Speaker 14: (23:31)
Hold on. [inaudible 00:23:31]