Dec 22, 2020

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 22

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 22
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsFlorida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 22

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on December 22. Read the transcript with updates on COVID-19 vaccine distribution here.

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Ron DeSantis: (00:00)
Don Henderson, thank you, CEO of UF Health Central Florida for hosting us. Today, we’re here to witness and highlight the first COVID-19 vaccines to be administered in The Villages. In just a moment, several of our UF frontline healthcare workers will receive the vaccine along with a group from the community who are senior citizens. And we are including a group of senior citizens here to give a preview of what is to come as we move forward in the vaccination process. While we will be releasing additional plans very soon, we will have some community vaccination sites available for older individuals, as well as working in conjunction with our hospital systems to be able to deliver as many vaccines as possible to those who want the vaccines, particularly in the elderly demographic.

Ron DeSantis: (00:56)
I want to make one point very clear: there was discussions amongst the CDC’s advisory committee about vaccinations over the weekend, that actually had a proposal to place, “Younger essential workers ahead of elderly individuals.” Now that was met with, deserved, a lot of backlash. They had to revise that, and they’ve now recommended that the next round of vaccine be reserved for both essential workers and those who are 75 and up. Just understand what that would mean, if you’re a 22-year old working in food services, say at a supermarket, you would have preference over a 74-year old grandmother. I don’t think that that is the direction that we want to go. So those recommendations, should the CDC adopt them, are advisory. They do not bind states, and they do not bind individual governors and they will not bind the state of Florida.

Ron DeSantis: (01:57)
Let me just be very, very clear, our vaccines are going to be targeted for our elderly population. We’ve been going through over the last week to do those tip of the sphere healthcare workers, as well as our long-term care residents and staff. That mission continues. There’s been a lot of progress made on that, but as we get into the general community, the vaccines are going to be targeted where the risk is the greatest, and that is in our elderly population. We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly vulnerable population.

Ron DeSantis: (02:37)
Last week, the state of Florida received 179,400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was used for both those high contact healthcare workers, [inaudible 00:02:48] staff and residents of our long-term care facilities. Five hospitals got the initial shipment. We are limited by HHS to only five, and it was kind of a test run to make sure that this is something that could be done effectively. They did have the ultra cold storage capability, and they have been giving vaccine for their employees. They’ve been working with neighboring hospitals to vaccinate those nurses and doctors, but we also earmarked about 60,000 doses for CVS and Walgreens, who have been contracted with HHS to provide vaccinations to staff and residents of long-term care facilities.

Ron DeSantis: (03:28)
At the same time, we wanted an aggressive schedule. And when it was clear that those companies may not be ready to go on day one, I directed the Department of Emergency Management to partner with Florida’s Department of Health, to deploy EMS strike teams to administer the vaccine to residents and staff of long-term care facilities. And we focused on two counties initially, Pinellas and Broward, simply because there’s a high concentration of these facilities and they have an elderly demographic. Florida, because of our initiative, we were the first state in the nation to begin vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities, and that mission continues. So we believe that this is important.

Ron DeSantis: (04:12)
I said, when we were down in South Florida, that our goal was to complete more than 100 facilities in the next six days. I’m proud to say that that has been done. There have been over 100 targeted facilities in Broward and Pinellas have been completed, and CVS and Walgreens are now actively vaccinating as well. And I’m optimistic that they will continue to get to these facilities in short order, but our strike teams are there, and we’re going to continue to help further the mission whenever we can.

Ron DeSantis: (04:45)
This week, we received an additional 127,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and by the end of today, we should have 367,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Now, the Moderna vaccine is being distributed much more widely than those initial Pfizer doses, which were limited by HHS to just five hospitals. So we now have an additional 173 hospitals, that will span the entire state of Florida. And unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine does not require ultra cold chain storage. In addition to the hospitals that are now receiving the vaccine, we allocated vaccine to eight county health departments to help use for EMTs and for paramedics.

Ron DeSantis: (05:30)
We’ve come a long way. When we were here in the villages in, I believe either March or early April, we were setting up test sites, trying to get as many people access to diagnostic PCR tests as we could, and we were able to get a lot of seniors to come through here. The Villages have handled this very well. They’ve really worked to provide a safe environment for the residents. We’re now in a situation where Florida has vaccinated tens of thousands of people, at least for the first dose. We’re going to continue making progress there, and we now have this light at the end of the tunnel for our elderly, where you’re going to have, in relatively short order, access to a safe and effective vaccine.

Ron DeSantis: (06:16)
Let me just say finally, before we get onto the main show here, we have in the state of Florida people 65 and over, about 4.4 million residents. 70 and over it’s about 3.12 million residents. And so as you look forward about the vaccines being allocated, we are not going to have, over the next six weeks, 4.4 million doses for individuals. We probably will have a couple million, we’ll see how that works. And so, what I would say to the elderly population, it’s going to be reserved for you, but not everyone’s going to be able to do it on day one. It’s going to take some time to able to make sure everybody has access. We’re going to work very hard at the state to provide whatever support we can to our healthcare providers, to be able to make this happen. But this is something that over the next six weeks, eight weeks, we should be able to make huge progress on.

Ron DeSantis: (07:18)
I wish it was as simple as just doing it overnight; that’s not necessarily the case, but just understand if you’re talking just 70 plus, we got 3.12 million. Not everyone may want it, because of course it’s not mandated, but I do believe most will want it, and so we want to make sure that we’re working to be able to provide that to the folks who really want it.

Ron DeSantis: (07:41)
And with that, we’re going to be able to witness, I think the first vaccinations for … we both have some healthcare workers, but then we also have some members of the community, right? So how are we going to do it? Are we going to do both groups?

Speaker 2: (07:54)
We’re going to [inaudible 00:07:55]

Ron DeSantis: (07:55)
Okay. So we’re going to do the healthcare folks first?

Speaker 2: (07:58)
Yep. They’re both going to [inaudible 00:08:00].

Ron DeSantis: (07:59)
Okay.

Speaker 2: (08:03)
[inaudible 00:08:03] community member.

Ron DeSantis: (08:03)
Okay. So we’ve got members of-

Speaker 2: (08:08)
And healthcare and community members and then our vaccinators.

Ron DeSantis: (08:12)
Okay. So, who’s a community member? Okay. So we’ve got two members of the community. We got two members who are working in healthcare. And so they are going to be able to receive vaccinations. So you guys want to take it away? A couple more rounds, right?

Speaker 3: (10:06)
[inaudible 00:10:23]. How was that?

Speaker 4: (10:06)
It was terrific.

Speaker 3: (10:06)
[inaudible 00:10:55]. You have a good day.

Speaker 4: (10:06)
Thank you so much.

Ron DeSantis: (10:06)
All right.

Speaker 3: (11:16)
[inaudible 00:11:16]

Speaker 5: (11:16)
Hi, how are you?

Speaker 6: (11:16)
Am I done?

Speaker 5: (11:16)
You are done. Pardon me?

Speaker 7: (11:16)
[inaudible 00:12:37].

Speaker 5: (11:16)
Doesn’t [inaudible 00:12:39].

Speaker 7: (11:16)
Are you [inaudible 00:12:40]?

Speaker 5: (11:16)
[inaudible 00:12:40].

Ron DeSantis: (11:16)
Hey, how you doing?

Speaker 5: (11:16)
Very well, thank you.

Speaker 9: (11:16)
Governor, are these Moderna or Pfizer?

Speaker 3: (11:16)
Pfizer.

Ron DeSantis: (11:16)
Pfizer.

Speaker 9: (11:16)
Thank you.

Speaker 5: (12:36)
[inaudible 00:13:39].

Ron DeSantis: (13:39)
All right. Thank you. Yeah. How was it?

Speaker 10: (13:42)
All right.

Ron DeSantis: (13:43)
Okay, just come back in 21 days now.

Speaker 10: (13:44)
Yeah, thank you.

Ron DeSantis: (13:44)
All right.

Speaker 11: (13:44)
Good.

Ron DeSantis: (13:52)
Senator Baxley. Did you get offered to come do this or what?

Senator Baxley: (13:57)
[inaudible 00:13:57]

Ron DeSantis: (13:58)
Okay.

Speaker 13: (14:00)
Is that better? Does that go over there?

Ron DeSantis: (14:04)
Okay. Well good. When are you guys doing that? Hey, how are you? Okay.

Senator Baxley: (14:08)
[inaudible 00:14:17].

Speaker 5: (14:16)
You can sit right there for me. Okay?

Speaker 14: (14:18)
Okay.

Speaker 5: (14:19)
All right, thank you. [inaudible 00:14:29] typical clinic.

Ron DeSantis: (14:31)
What’s that?

Speaker 15: (14:32)
Nobody’s screamed yet.

Ron DeSantis: (14:33)
No, it’s been good. And I think when people see you guys doing it, and there’s no problems, then more people want to take it. So thanks for volunteering.

Speaker 5: (14:58)
[inaudible 00:14:58] I just need you to hold the bandaid for me, please.

Speaker 16: (15:06)
It is over?

Ron DeSantis: (15:08)
Easy as that.

Speaker 17: (15:16)
Thank you.

Ron DeSantis: (15:16)
Thank you.

Speaker 5: (15:47)
All done.

Speaker 18: (15:47)
Like this?

Speaker 5: (15:47)
Yes, ma’am.

Speaker 18: (15:47)
Thank you very much.

Speaker 5: (15:47)
You’re very welcome.

Speaker 18: (15:47)
You have a merry Christmas.

Speaker 5: (15:47)
You too. How are you [inaudible 00:16:06]? Wonderful.

Speaker 19: (15:47)
Thank you.

Ron DeSantis: (15:47)
All right.

Speaker 5: (15:47)
Give me one second.

Speaker 20: (15:47)
[inaudible 00:17:14].

Speaker 5: (17:33)
[inaudible 00:17:14]. Okay. I’m going to put a bandaid on you. All right, we are done, okay?

Speaker 20: (17:34)
Thank you.

Speaker 5: (17:35)
You’re welcome.

Ron DeSantis: (17:42)
You guys are very efficient. That’s a lot of people and it’s pretty short amount of time.

Speaker 21: (17:46)
All done? Thank you.

Ron DeSantis: (18:40)
Great job. So what was that? Like 10 minutes to do all those people? Now, what did they have to do leading up to this? Did they have to fill out a form or how did you-

Speaker 5: (18:50)
Yeah, they fill out a form and then they get the information from the DUA on it. And then some other information on how to report any allergic reactions in there. I then reviewed all of their history with them, making sure that this was safe for them to get.

Ron DeSantis: (19:10)
Do they now have an appointment to come back in 21 days?

Speaker 5: (19:12)
Yeah, while they’re sitting for their 30 minutes that we’re going to monitor them, we will fill up their CDC card with all that information, and then we’ll book their next appointment for their next testing.

Ron DeSantis: (19:23)
Good job. I know you guys have plenty more of these to do and in the coming weeks and months. We appreciate UF Health. Thank you guys for really leaning in anytime there was anything that was needed here, they were on top of it from the very beginning with the testing and all the way now to the vaccine. So it’s exciting. Got a lot of work to do, but I think that there’s a good strong light at the end of the tunnel. With that, yes, sir.

Speaker 22: (19:46)
Governor [inaudible 00:19:49] superintendent Barbara Jenkins has sent a letter to your office asking that teachers be moved forward to the front of the line up, not first in line, but towards the front of the line. What do you have to say about that?

Ron DeSantis: (19:58)
I think once we offer it to elderly and particularly if we get a Johnson & Johnson approval, which is one dose, I think you’re going to be able to offer it broadly. And I think some of the key areas, whether it’s law enforcement, fire, whether it’s teachers, I think that they will have access. Obviously, any teacher that is elderly, would be included in the overall elderly population, but we want to make sure that we’re giving the access to, to the elderly first. And that’s just a basic matter of the data in how the diseases affect the different age groups

Speaker 23: (20:32)
Just to be clear that some of the folk here that are not health care workers, they’re not in assisted living facilities.

Ron DeSantis: (20:38)
No, no, no. These are probably the first members of the community who are senior citizens to be vaccinated. Maybe anywhere in the country, but certainly in Florida. So this is kind of a preview of what we’re going to be seeing an awful lot of, hopefully over the next weeks and months.

Speaker 23: (21:00)
But just to be clear, my mom couldn’t go get a shot tomorrow?

Ron DeSantis: (21:00)
Not tomorrow, but this is going to happen pretty soon. Once we get the allocations, I think we’ve worked through a pretty decent chunk of the frontline healthcare workers. Like I mentioned, we’ve done over the 100 facilities in Broward and Pinellas for longterm care, CVS and Walgreens is working through, I think they picked up the pace. So you will probably, let’s put it this way. We want to be able to offer it as soon as we can. This is not like this is three months away. I mean, you’re going to have enough vaccine to begin going for the senior population. I also said at the end, just to understand with the numbers we have, we have a lot of folks. So you say over 73.12 million, how many of them want it? Let’s just say 75% want it, that’s a decent chunk of people. Probably have enough vaccine over the next six weeks for that. But we’re probably, the way it looks, probably not going to have 4 million doses by February 1st.

Speaker 23: (21:57)
For snowbird season, are full-time residents going to have priority over people that might live elsewhere than here?

Ron DeSantis: (22:05)
Well, we have not necessarily done that. We’ll see

Speaker 24: (22:12)
[inaudible 00:22:12] if somebody sees this on the news tonight, “Oh, these people are getting it, I’ll be able to get it soon.” To find brain that you can tell these people that it might be?

Ron DeSantis: (22:21)
So we are hoping that with the allocation coming up for the coming week, that the bulk of that will be able to be devoted to elderly people. Now, this is hundreds of thousands, which is a lot, but you know the numbers there. We’re also working with the hospitals about efficient delivery. Now, once they get through their healthcare workers, they obviously already have some system in place to be able to vaccinate people. So I think you’ll see some of them will be reaching out to the community. As I mentioned, we’re probably going to do some community pods working with some of the county health departments. And so you’ll start to see that. So I would just say, if you’re in the elderly population, this is coming soon and just stay tuned. There’s going to be more information coming. But we’re a lot further along than we thought we would be six months ago. And that’s a really good thing.

Speaker 25: (23:20)
Are we talking 50 and over, 60 and over, 65 and over?

Ron DeSantis: (23:20)
It’s going to be people that are considered high risk and elderly. I think if you look, maybe if you compare a 51 year old to a 73 year old, there’s a radical difference. Not saying that if you’re 51, no one’s had complications, obviously that’s happened. But if you look, the higher you go on that age scale, the more you’ve seen mortality. Yes ma’am?

Speaker 26: (23:40)
So governor, when you say high risk and elderly. By high risk, you mean maybe someone who, a long history of asthma that is 40 years old, they could get vaccinated?

Ron DeSantis: (23:51)
We’re saying the elderly are higher risk. We’re focusing on the elderly. It is absolutely true that if you’re 40, you could have some comorbidities. The problem is how do you administer that? And do you want to have the hospitals having to slice and dice everyone’s co-morbidity? We believe if you look at the numbers, someone 40 with co-morbidities, if someone’s 80, with those same … the person that’s 80 as much higher risk. So we’re going to focus on that. We’ll focus on it based on elderly and age, not necessarily health status, and the reason for that is just efficiency. It’s clear. And as I said, with the Johnson & Johnson, hopefully being approved in January, we’re not too far away where you could have a one dose vaccine, that’ll be even more broadly available. We thought about doing the comorbidities, but I just think functionally, when you get into, how do you do that?

Ron DeSantis: (24:43)
Do I say this person’s comorbidity counts and this person’s doesn’t? And if you look at the mortality, 82% of the COVID related mortality is people that are elderly. And so if you can get a huge amount of those people vaccinated, you are going to reduce that mortality. You’ll reduce the people coming into the hospitals. And that’ll really, I think be the most effective public health strategy to be able to do. So, that’s where we’re going and there will be more information shortly. But I think the top line for today is, given that there’s some confusion about who should be kind of in line first, some say some of the younger workers even. Just want to be clear in Florida, we’ve got to put our parents and grandparents first, and that’s what we’re going to be doing. And we’re going to work like hell to be able to get all the vaccine out to elderly who want it. Thanks very much.