Jan 4, 2021

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 4

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 4
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsFlorida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 4

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on January 4. Read the transcript with updates on COVID-19 vaccine distribution here.

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Gov. DeSantis: (00:00)
… I saw their hospitals over these many, many months. Also, I want to recognize Senator Jason Broder who’s here. Congratulations on a great win and also state representative Scott Plakon. Scott, thank you so much for all your hard work. We’re here today to announce the kickoff of Orlando’s Health community vaccination sites. In addition to right here at the South Seminole Hospital, Orlando Health will be operating community vaccination sites at six other locations; Orlando Health, Dr. Phillips, Orlando Health, Winnie Palmer, Orlando Health, the Central Hospital, Orlando Health, South Lake Orlando, Health St. Cloud, and then Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg. And I was talking with David and some of the physicians, they’ve already, just at this site, just this site, right? Have done 1500 shots today. And they think that they can get to, what? 4,000 shots for the day.

Gov. DeSantis: (01:00)
So that’s really going to start … I think they’re going to be in a great groove. We have given them an allotment. They think they’re going to blow through that and we’re going to give them more because we want the shots to go in the arms. So as with the case with vaccinations in the State of Florida, the vaccines will be reserved for individuals 65 years of age or older, frontline healthcare workers, staff, and residents of long-term care facilities, as well as individuals that the hospital’s deemed to be especially vulnerable to COVID-19. When the vaccines first came, they were earmarked primarily for staff and residents of long-term care facilities and for frontline healthcare workers. And so Orlando Health was one of the first hospitals to have Pfizer vaccine. They were able to do a lot of their staff. Many other of those initial hospitals did as well. Most hospitals in Florida did not get the Moderna until right before Christmas.

Gov. DeSantis: (01:54)
I think they’ve made a lot of headway with their staff. They’re probably still in the process of doing some of that. So obviously those are important priorities. But I think what we want to be clear going forward, as it relates to the general public, we really believe it’s important to put our seniors first. And that’s what we’re going to be doing. You’re going to be seeing that in places like this, where we were able in the area where they’re doing it. And I think you’re going to see that all across the state. Now, Orlando Health, their goal is to administer at least 10,000 vaccines a week. It seems like that they’re probably going to hit that and then some. And to receive a vaccine at one of Orlando Health’s locations, you just have to visit vaccine.orlandohealth.com and register online. Of course, supply is still limited.

Gov. DeSantis: (02:42)
So we ask you that you bear with us. Both the health systems, as well as other folks who are doing it, they’re working really hard. This is a big priority for them. They do a great job and they’re going to be administering vaccines as quickly as can. The hospital-led vaccination efforts will be critical to the rapid dispensation of vaccines throughout the state. And in fact, up to this point, about 80% of the vaccine doses have been distributed to hospitals around the state. And some are doing really well with that and we want to thank them for what they’ll do. And what we’ve done is we’ve asked all the hospitals who are getting vaccine to submit to us how they plan to offer vaccinations to the community, especially of course, our senior citizens. And I want to be very clear on one important point: hospitals that do not do a good job of getting the vaccine out will have their allocations transferred to hospitals that are doing a good job in getting the vaccine out.

Gov. DeSantis: (03:45)
We do not want a vaccine to just be idle at some hospital system. So as David and everyone here at Orlando Health, if they’re exceeding their targets, which they very well may be based on what they’re doing today, and there’s other hospitals that are not moving the vaccine, then we’re going to up their allotment and we’re going to reduce the allotment of any hospital systems that aren’t getting the shots in the arms. And so we really view the hospitals as the frontline on this. They have the infrastructure, they have the expertise and they have the relationships in the communities to really do a good job. At the same time, what the hospitals can do is necessary, but it’s not completely sufficient. And to that end, I have four new announcements about how the State of Florida is going to continue our aggressive approach to increase vaccinations.

Gov. DeSantis: (04:36)
So first, I’ve directed the Division of Emergency Management to work with the Florida Department of Health to identify state run COVID-19 testing sites that can be converted into vaccine sites. So these are sites that are generally pretty large, have a lot of parking capacity, have drive-thru capacity. And we’ve shipped a lot of vaccine to long-term care facilities, all the major hospitals in the state, county health departments. We need to add additional layers to the vaccination strategy. We believe we’ll have enough doses to be able to do that. And while we may not be able to open all the sites we want to right at the start based on supply, we do think that there’s going to be enough supply to establish some additional locations. So we’re going to have more announcements on that this week. And basically what we’re trying to do is figure out any way to get this into the community so folks have access to it.

Gov. DeSantis: (05:38)
The second announcement is that the State of Florida will be identifying places of worship in underserved communities where we can administer the vaccine. So we already piloted the idea to a church in Escambia County up in Northwest Florida. And it was a great success. We were able to vaccinate over 500 seniors and also have them scheduled for their booster shot, which they will then receive at the same location when that time comes. So you’re going to see this approach all over the state, and we’ll be making more announcements on that very shortly. Third, I’ve directed the Division of Emergency Management to activate existing contracts for 1000 additional nurses to support vaccination efforts. And we’re going to deploy them throughout the state to help vaccinate [inaudible 00:06:24] public sites that the state may run. We may even help if a hospital is shorthanded. Basically, however they can help facilitate shots getting in people’s arms, we want those nurses to be able to do that. And of course, these personnel supplement the more than 800 National Guardsmen who’ve been mobilized in this effort from the very beginning and were instrumental in our strike teams vaccinating seniors at over 100 skilled nursing facilities in the first six days of receipt of the Pfizer vaccine back in the middle of December. And fourth and finally, I’m directing the state emergency response team to assume additional responsibilities regarding your administering vaccines in Florida’s nearly 4,000 long-term care facilities. So currently the vaccination of residents and staff in long-term care facilities, including assisted living facilities are being handled by CVS and Walgreens pursuant to an agreement they have with the federal government. But we want to accelerate that pace. We believe vaccinations the sooner, the better, and so there’s no time to waste. So you’re going to see more state effort, additional state effort than what we’ve already done, which has been significant in those facilities.

Gov. DeSantis: (07:38)
And I just want to be clear on one thing. We don’t believe it’s time to rest. So any state site, if we do a drive-through site, if we do a pod somewhere in a community, I’ve ordered that anything the State of Florida is doing is open seven days a week. So if you have a drive-through site down in Miami, we want that open seven days a week. And I’ve also asked the hospitals to consider expanding their services to seven days a week. I just think it’s going to be easier for people. It will be more opportunity for people to be able to get in and get vaccinated. And we really view particularly, these next two months as really crunch time. So anything the state’s doing, it’s going to be seven days a week. Now, the opening of hospital vaccination sites along with these four new actions are a timely compliment to our first three weeks of vaccinations, where we were able to see a lot of great things.

Gov. DeSantis: (08:38)
Florida was the first state in the nation to begin offering vaccines to staff and residents of our over 4,000 long-term care facilities. We were also the first state in the nation to begin offering vaccines to EMTs and paramedics. And most importantly, we were the first state in the nation to mobilize our county health departments and county emergency managers to begin actively vaccinating seniors in our communities in the first week, which when we got vaccine in the middle of December, and we only had a handful of hospitals that was giving it. Orlando Health was able to be one of those and they started using it. They were focusing mainly on their staff, particularly people that are in contact with COVID patients, doctors, and nurses. And they’ve had a really good response here. I asked them what percentage of people are doing? Because you hear stories around the country of, “Oh, most of the nurses don’t want it or whatever.”

Gov. DeSantis: (09:32)
Well, here at Orlando Health, they said at least 90% of physicians have taken the vaccine and about 75% of their nurses have taken the vaccine. So I think those are numbers that are higher than what’s being reported in some other parts of the country. Of course, in the first week, once we had word that CVS and Walgreens would not begin vaccinating until another week after the initial doses were received, I directed the Florida Department of Health, Division of Emergency Management and Florida National Guard to mobilize EMS strike teams to immediately begin offering vaccines to staff and residents of long-term care facilities. We didn’t want a week delay. And so they were able to do in just six days time, over 100 facilities in two heavily senior dominated counties, Pinellas, and Broward. And I think that that was really, really good.

Gov. DeSantis: (10:24)
And now you’re going to start seeing all those seniors that first week who got the Pfizer, they’re going to be getting their booster shots very soon. And so we’re going to continue to focus on that mission. Now, just before Christmas, the state received the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine, which was directed to over 170 hospitals that spanned the entire state. So most hospitals in Florida received Moderna right before Christmas. And I know they were working on doing their staff. Now, Christmas, New Year’s is not the best time to be able to reach all your staff. That’s just the way it goes. So they’ve worked really hard and we appreciate it. And we understand that the timing, if it was early October, would have been a little bit different. But I think that they’ve worked really, really hard. We also, during that week, I signed the executive order to prioritize our senior citizens.

Gov. DeSantis: (11:16)
Now, CDC’s initial recommendations in their advisory committee was to not even include seniors at all. They were going to have essential workers, which obviously would not have been the best approach to reduce mortality. There was a lot of blow back about that. And so then they said, “Do essential workers and then 75 and plus.” In Florida, we don’t believe that’s the best approach for our state. We believe we got to focus on senior citizens. And so here, the seniors are the priority. We don’t want a situation where someone’s 20 years old working at a grocery store, which is an honorable thing and great, but that person get priority over a 74 year old or a 73 year old grandmother. No, we’ve got to focus on seniors and put our seniors first. And then this most recent week, we were able to send vaccine to every county health department and nearly every hospital in the state.

Gov. DeSantis: (12:07)
So the vaccine is now available statewide. This was also the week when county health departments began working with local partners to offer vaccines in the community. So right before New Year’s, I had the privilege to go down to a senior community called Kings Point down in Palm beach County. And working with the Palm beach County health department, they were able to administer hundreds of vaccines to residents of the community, all of whom raged 65 or older. It was a good event, and this is the type of thing that we’re going to continue to replicate in other senior living communities across the state. Now, as we enter the new year, I think there’s a lot of reason for optimism. I’ve talked about some of the statistics that you hear what’s going on today. I think you’re going to see that at hospitals throughout the state. They have all the staff back, everyone [inaudible 00:12:57] we’re going to really hopefully see a lot of shots going. So I think that we want to continue to see this vaccine-

Gov. DeSantis: (13:03)
Shots going. So I think that we want to continue to see this vaccine administered as quickly as possible, we want to continue to get more and more supplies, but just in a couple week’s time, you went from only being able to send it to a small amount of hospitals, to now having it available across the state with hospitals. And then, as I mentioned, we’re going to be doing some stuff with the test sites. I’m also going to have a number of announcements this week about other innovative ways to get this into the community.

Gov. DeSantis: (13:29)
So 2020, not the best year that I think any of us have had. It was really tough for a lot of people. No matter whether you ever had any encounter with COVID, it was still tough for people. And I think 2021 is going to be brighter and I think this vaccine is providing a lot of hope to a lot of people.

Gov. DeSantis: (13:48)
So I want to thank the folks here at Orlando Health for really being the tip of the sphere. It was great to just peek into the room and see all these folks that are there in line going to get the vaccine, and we’re going to continue the momentum going forward. So I’d like to invite up David Strong to say a few things.

David Strong: (14:10)
Thanks. Well, thank you, Governor. I want to thank you for your leadership and your continued presence actually throughout the entire pandemic. It’s been important.

David Strong: (14:18)
I want to introduce the folks that are standing here with me. First of all, Dr. Jamal Hakim. Dr. Hakim’s the chief operating officer of Orlando Health as well as a practicing anesthesiologist. And to my right is Dr. George Rawls. He’s the chief medical officer of Orlando Health and a practicing ED doctor. And so both of them in their practices interact with patients, both who have COVID as well as have received the vaccine.

David Strong: (14:42)
I want to start off by just thanking the Orlando Health team members. Many of the folks that are involved in planning and administering the vaccine are the same individuals that have been caring for patients across this system, whether they’re COVID-19 patients or other patients that need care. And so the individuals that really carry the weight every day are continuing to do that. And so, it is with sincere appreciation and thanks for our team members and our physicians for their continued amazing work throughout this year and what they will do going forward.

David Strong: (15:19)
Also, just a quick comment on our process for the vaccine. It has been a very purposeful process. As you heard, we started off initially with frontline staff, both from a physician standpoint, as well as a clinical standpoint, that take care of patients that potentially or are COVID positive. We’ve administered about 10,000 vaccines to that population. As you’ve heard this week, we anticipate that we will have another 20,000 vaccines administered.

David Strong: (15:56)
That focus is on a few different areas. First of all, we are focused on opening up to any healthcare worker or frontline individual first responder that’s not employed by Orlando Health. And so if there are any, whether it’s a dental office or other physician offices, if they want to receive the vaccine, they can go online and book an appointment to do that.

David Strong: (16:21)
Another area that we’re focused on is nursing home and long-term care facilities, as well as assisted living facilities that have not been served yet by the other individuals that are administering the vaccine. We want to be able to help them.

David Strong: (16:37)
And then another area that we have focused on is really our team members’ family members that are over 65, and that is a purposeful place for us to focus. One, it’s the people that we know. Two, as you may have heard or as you’ve read, one of the greatest weights that frontline caregivers carry is are they going to give COVID-19 to their families? What impact is that? And so it is a purposeful approach for us to focus on our team members and their loved ones.

David Strong: (17:08)
Next week, the week of January 11th, we will transition from those areas that I talked about to going outside of the hospital. We will open up six clinic locations. A few of those will be drive-through, but trying to make that more accessible than trying to come on a hospital campus. And so it will be more of a clinic environment with even an easier scheduling process.

David Strong: (17:32)
I’m going to turn it now over to Dr. Rawls. Dr. Rawls will give a little more detail on the process that we’ve gone through, but also talk about any of the clinical implications that we’ve seen from providing the vaccine. George?

Dr. George Rawls: (17:46)
Sure. Thank you, David and Governor. So we’ve had a very positive experience so far with our vaccine program. We started the program on December 18th and, as David mentioned, it was focused on our frontline healthcare workers. And we included all of the team members that were part of our surge plan that would have been drawn into patient care activities had the situation gotten to the point that we needed them.

Dr. George Rawls: (18:10)
And that worked really, really well. We got thousands of people through in four days. To this point, we have about 10,000 people that were part of that group that were vaccinated that are now coming back in for their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine this week.

Dr. George Rawls: (18:24)
As we saw more inventory come in, the Moderna vaccine was in our hands, we were able to expand our vaccination program to a broader group of community health providers, to EMS and fire personnel that didn’t have access to it some other way. And now we’re into this sort of third phase where we have a sufficient supply to really expand the program out to include those 65 and over that we can reach out to you by way of our team member network.

Dr. George Rawls: (18:52)
So our goal this week is to get through the 20,000 doses that we had set out and then continue to work towards a new phase of this come the week of January 11th, where probably the easiest way to describe it is we want to normalize the vaccine process into the regular process of getting your healthcare, where it’s not a special thing you have to do, go to a special site. We want to make this available, something that’s very easy to access, and make sure that as the inventory grows, the options grow for us, that we have the ability to make that just, again, easier and more accessible for our patients and for the entire community.

Dr. George Rawls: (19:26)
So that’s our work this week, and we really are hoping to be able to maintain that high volume of vaccination opportunities for the community well into the next few months.

Dr. George Rawls: (19:38)
As David mentioned, we’ve had a good response in terms of our team members’ interest in this. It’s much higher than you’ve been reading. We’ve had nearly all of our physicians want it. We’ve had the majority of our healthcare teams want to get the vaccine and they’ve been vaccinated. And probably most importantly, we haven’t seen adverse reactions to the point that it’s of any way concerning to us. We’ve had very, very few people report anything. We haven’t had team members out of work because they got a vaccine and felt sick. Obviously there’s more to follow. We have a second dose coming up and we’re going to track that very, very carefully.

Dr. George Rawls: (20:14)
But the reason why I mentioned that is that’s one of the things that holds people back is like, “What if I get a vaccine and then I can’t go to work?” You know, at the end of the day, it’s possible, but we haven’t seen that. And I would just like to reassure those that have that in mind as a reason not to get it now that our experience on the ground has been very positive on that front.

Dr. George Rawls: (20:34)
So again, we’re looking forward to continuing the strong partnership with the Governor’s office, with our local public health officials, and make sure that we are able to do for the community what we can do to make sure a vaccine is not held on a shelf somewhere, that we are doing, as the Governor said, get the shots in people’s arms.

Gov. DeSantis: (20:53)
Well, thanks again. I think that you guys have really worked hard. We really appreciate all that you’ve done. And just to remind folks, when you have that vaccine in any of the hospitals, we want you to use the vaccine. If you’re not using it, then we’re going to make sure that additional allotments are going to be reduced and then expanded in places where they’re really making good use of it.

Gov. DeSantis: (21:16)
So it’s not the easiest thing. We understand that, but this is really, really important. So I thank all the folks throughout the state who’ve worked really, really hard to be at this point. And I’m just optimistic that seeing what’s going on here, I mean, I knew they would be doing good, but the numbers that they’re talking about today, I mean, it’s higher than I anticipated. And so that’s what we want to keep seeing. We want people to be able to get the shots, and that’s going to be a good thing for a lot of folks throughout the state.

Gov. DeSantis: (21:47)
And speaking of shots, I think we have a demonstration. So I think we’re going to have a variety of people. I know we have… There we go. So we got… And then you have patients? Okay, great. So we have first responders. How many total are we doing?

Speaker 1: (22:06)

Speaker 2: (22:07)

Gov. DeSantis: (22:08)
So you have two first responders, a nurse…

Speaker 2: (22:11)
And two over 65.

Gov. DeSantis: (22:15)
And two elderly. Okay. So five shots, first responders, I think one healthcare worker, and then two 65 and over. Take it away.

Gov. DeSantis: (22:26)
Now before, so they’re at this point, just can you explain? They have to sign a form, the emergency use authorization. You give them kind of the rundown on that and then obviously it’s their decision whether they want to get the shot or not.

Speaker 2: (22:39)
They’ll consent to it and they’ll be given a card to come back for the second dose as well.

Gov. DeSantis: (22:43)
Okay. So you guys already have your card for the second dose?

Speaker 3: (22:46)
We do.

Gov. DeSantis: (22:46)
And is this Moderna or Pfizer?

Speaker 1: (22:48)

Speaker 2: (22:48)
It’s the Moderna.

Gov. DeSantis: (22:49)
Moderna. So Moderna would be basically a must a month, I mean, 28 days. So if they’re getting it in early January, they’re going to be back probably sometime in early February. And that’s great. Take it away.

Speaker 4: (23:02)
[inaudible 00:23:02]

Speaker 1: (23:02)

Speaker 3: (23:02)
We’ll make it easy.

Speaker 2: (23:02)
Thank you.

Speaker 4: (23:13)
[inaudible 00:23:13]

Gov. DeSantis: (23:16)
And you guys both work Longwood Fire?

Speaker 3: (23:20)
Yes, that’s correct.

Gov. DeSantis: (23:20)
I didn’t see you over there. How’s it going? Good to see you.

Speaker 4: (23:23)
And we’re ready.

Speaker 1: (23:38)
You ready?

Speaker 4: (23:39)
Yes. [inaudible 00:23:39]

Speaker 1: (23:39)
I’m done.

Speaker 4: (23:39)
Well, that was nothing.

Speaker 1: (23:39)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 4: (23:39)
Thank you very much.

Speaker 1: (23:39)
All right.

David Strong: (23:39)
Great job.

Gov. DeSantis: (23:40)
Good job.

Speaker 2: (23:41)
Okay, so first [inaudible 00:10:45].

Gov. DeSantis: (23:47)
All right.

Speaker 2: (23:47)

Gov. DeSantis: (23:54)
And what’s your name?

Judy Wright: (23:55)
Judy Wright.

Gov. DeSantis: (23:56)
And you live here?

Judy Wright: (23:57)
I do. Yes. And I work Sanlando United Methodist Church just down-

Gov. DeSantis: (24:04)
Oh, wonderful.

Judy Wright: (24:06)
And our pastor, Jonathan Tarman, told me to come today. He’s worried about me, so here I am with my husband.

Gov. DeSantis: (24:09)
Good. Well, it seems like it’s going to go well. We’ve had a lot of good success. Sir.

Speaker 5: (24:17)
Can you sit right there?

Speaker 6: (24:17)
Yes, I can.

David Strong: (24:17)
Good job.

Dr. George Rawls: (24:17)
God job.

Speaker 3: (24:17)
Thank you.

Speaker 2: (24:17)

Speaker 6: (24:17)
Hi. [inaudible 00:24:18].

Speaker 1: (24:24)
[inaudible 00:24:24]

Speaker 2: (24:24)
[inaudible 00:24:24]

Speaker 6: (24:24)
[inaudible 00:24:24]

Speaker 2: (24:24)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 7: (24:28)
Sorry, do you mind if I ask you a question [inaudible 00:24:56]?

Gov. DeSantis: (24:58)
As soon as they’re done, we’ll open it up.

Speaker 2: (24:59)
Are you ready?

Speaker 6: (24:59)
I’m ready.

Speaker 2: (25:17)
Perfect. [inaudible 00:25:17]

Gov. DeSantis: (25:19)
How was it?

Judy Wright: (25:20)
It was great.

Gov. DeSantis: (25:21)

Judy Wright: (25:21)
Didn’t feel a thing.

Gov. DeSantis: (25:22)
And you’ll be back in early February, right?

Judy Wright: (25:24)
You betcha.

Gov. DeSantis: (25:24)

Judy Wright: (25:25)
I’m ready.

Gov. DeSantis: (25:29)
All right.

Speaker 6: (25:30)
That’s good.

Gov. DeSantis: (25:31)
Easy does it, right?

Speaker 6: (25:32)
Yeah. [inaudible 00:25:37].

Speaker 2: (25:32)
That’s it. You’ve been amazing.

Gov. DeSantis: (25:42)
All right. Well, thanks for coming guys. You have a happy new year.

Speaker 6: (25:46)
You too.

Gov. DeSantis: (25:47)
All right. We got one more?

Speaker 5: (25:48)
One more. You can take a seat there.

Gov. DeSantis: (25:57)

Speaker 2: (25:57)

Gloria Kelvin: (25:58)
[inaudible 00:25:58]

Gov. DeSantis: (26:00)
And what’s your name?

Gloria Kelvin: (26:01)
Gloria Kelvin.

Gov. DeSantis: (26:02)
And you live in Seminole County-

Gov. DeSantis: (26:03)
And what’s your name?

Gloria Feldman: (26:03)
Gloria Feldman.

Gov. DeSantis: (26:03)
And you live in Seminole County?

Gloria Feldman: (26:04)
Yes I do.

Gov. DeSantis: (26:04)
Great. And you have an appointment to come back in when? Early February?

Gloria Feldman: (26:23)
I think so.

Speaker 8: (26:24)
Good. She’s the mother of one of our team members here.

Gov. DeSantis: (26:24)
Oh, okay. Okay. And you have a son or daughter that works here?

Gloria Feldman: (26:36)
My daughter in lawn.

Gov. DeSantis: (26:37)
Oh, daughter-in-law? Okay, great.

Gov. DeSantis: (26:47)
Yep. Moderna. Obviously regular freezer, but when you take it out, how long can it be on to the freezer?

Speaker 8: (26:54)
Once she actually opens her vial, it’s six hours.

Gov. DeSantis: (26:56)
Six hours?

Speaker 8: (26:58)
But it’s going to be out of their freezer for longer than that. [inaudible 00:27:05] as much as five days.

Gov. DeSantis: (27:07)

Gloria Feldman: (27:07)
I didn’t even feel it.

Speaker 9: (27:08)

Gov. DeSantis: (27:17)
How was it? No problem?

Gloria Feldman: (27:19)
I didn’t feel it.

Gov. DeSantis: (27:20)
There. Great. See?

Gloria Feldman: (27:21)
Thank you very much.

Gov. DeSantis: (27:32)
All right.

Speaker 9: (27:33)
You’re welcome.

Gov. DeSantis: (27:34)
Good job. Have a happy new year.

Gloria Feldman: (27:37)
Happy new year to you.

Gov. DeSantis: (27:37)
Yeah, absolutely. Well, there you go. And I’ve got to say, we’ve been now doing these for a few weeks. We’ve been doing the demonstrations. And there’s never been a hitch in the giddy up. No problem with anything. It’s a needle. Some people don’t like them, but it’s not been any issue. Everyone’s been fine with it. And so we want to thank you guys for doing it. I know you’re going to do a lot more today, so we appreciate it. With that, we’ll take a couple… Yes, sir.

Speaker 10: (28:01)
Governor, I just want to ask about the… You’ve heard that the nationwide, some cases have risen [inaudible 00:28:01] throughout the nationwide. [inaudible 00:02:09]. Now you’ve set hospitals. You have gotten 80% of the doses [inaudible 00:28:19].

Gov. DeSantis: (28:15)

Speaker 10: (28:16)
Do we know what hospitals are pushing along quickly enough? You said you would take them away from the hospitals if-

Gov. DeSantis: (28:26)
That’s going to be evaluated. Now, two weeks ago I said, “Look, there’s going to be a decline Christmas Eve and Christmas, and there’s going to be a decline New Year’s Eve.” And that that happened. That’s just the reality of the situation. Israel has done… In the US, I think we’re third per capita in doses administered in the world right now. Israel is number one with the Bullet. I can tell you, if Israel got those doses Tuesdays before Passover, they wouldn’t have gotten as many. That’s just the reality. So I think a lot of the criticism nationwide is kind of unfair. There just wasn’t the doses in hand until really right before Christmas. Orlando Health and a handful of other hospitals had the Pfizer that first week. Almost nobody else did.

Gov. DeSantis: (29:06)
And so I think what we’ve tried to do in Florida is say we trust, obviously, our healthcare delivery system. That is who’s going to do the best at this. And we’re going to constantly evaluate. The fact that they’re on target to do 4,000. Guess what? I’m going to Jackson Memorial in Miami today. I’m going to tell Carlos Migoya, the CEO, “Carlos, you better be doing that. You going to not beat them?” So I think we want to see a healthy competition of where we’re getting this out in the community and doing it in a really good way. And I think also what Florida I think has done is, when we saw a gap with longterm care the first week, we filled it over 100 facilities right off the bat. When we see some gaps in other parts, we’re going to fill it.

Gov. DeSantis: (29:49)
We were at an African-American church in Pensacola. We’re going to be at some other places. We’re going to do drive-through sites. And so a lot of this is just contingent on getting the doses. Now that we’re going to have more in the county health departments, we’re going to have more in the state, it gives us more ability to do some of these things. We’re going to have some good announcements tomorrow. We’re going to be partnering with the private sector. So I think that it’s the new year, everyone’s now back. Christmas, New Year’s, it is what it is. The hospitals are not fully staffed like they would want to be. That’s just the nature of it. Now we’re in a situation where I think what they’re doing at Orlando Health is a great model. I think other hospitals are going to be doing it.

Gov. DeSantis: (30:27)
And I think you’re going to see those numbers, not just in Florida but nationwide, really jump. But I think it’s important to point out, Florida’s approach I think is the better approach. If you have a 73 year old parent, 73 year old grandparent, in the vast majority of states in this country they are simply not eligible to be vaccinated. And we don’t believe that’s right. We believe the seniors have to be put first. Obviously they’ve done healthcare workers and they’ll continue to do that, and they should. Obviously we’re doing staff of longterm care as well as those seniors there. But our senior population deserves to be the priority. We were the first to come out of the gate on that. We’ve had Texas and I think Louisiana, Georgia. Colorado has followed suit. But I can tell you, that’s the way to go. And we’re going to continue to build capacity as we get more doses in. So I’m optimistic.

Speaker 11: (31:22)
[crosstalk 00:31:22] started vaccine distribution with healthcare providers and now it’s expanding to those 65 and older. Are you considering adding teachers to that list?

Gov. DeSantis: (31:31)
Not at this time. Any teacher that’s 65 or older or who meets other criteria. For example, the hospitals have the ability to vaccinate somebody regardless of age if they’re especially vulnerable to COVID. But basically, for us, this is based on data. And if you look at the COVID mortality, 65 and up represents over 80% of the COVID-related mortality in our country and in our state of Florida. So that’s where we’ve got to focus on the outset. We were talking, before we came in, with some of the docs. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we think we’re going to get data on that very soon. They could file for emergency use authorization potentially this month but certainly I would think by the beginning of February.

Gov. DeSantis: (32:16)
That’s approved, you’re then looking maybe sometime in February to have a one dose vaccine. And we’ll see what the efficacy is, but I’m hearing it’s pretty good. One dose vaccine produced to scale, that is where I think you can get in easier to folks who are in the workforce. But the fact is, just based on the data, the average person under 65 in our workforce has been at less risk than our senior population to COVID. So we’re going where the risk is greatest, we’re going where we can have the most impact on saving lives.

Speaker 13: (32:50)
Governor, what’s the next sub-group going to be?

Speaker 12: (32:52)
… at this point. Do you know when shots are coming in? How many for next week and the following week? It sounds like you’re really gearing up your troops.

Gov. DeSantis: (33:00)
We get the final report usually maybe three days before it ships. Now that modern and Pfizer both have EUA it’s a little bit more predictable, I think. So we basically get an allotment and then we determine how to do it. So for example, Orlando Health, if they do 20,000. And Dave said we could probably do 30,000 next week. Then maybe we do that. And if someone else has been given a lot and hasn’t gone through it, maybe we dial that back. But we usually know the week before the precise amounts. But I do think it’s going to get pretty predictable. And I think that’ll be really good for everybody to have a good sense of where we’re going. And all in all, the fact that we’ve gotten it when we’ve gotten it, it hasn’t been perfect but, man, this is a big logistical operation. I give the federal government a lot of credit. I think there’s so many things that could’ve gone so wrong. And by and large, when issues have come up, you’ve been able to troubleshoot them.

Speaker 14: (33:56)
Governor, during Christmas and New Year’s, we reported a lot of cases, a lot of people who are now in panic. An expert says that it will increase the numbers of people getting positive results. Why?

Gov. DeSantis: (34:12)
Well, look, what I would say is we trust people to make decisions. I think that this idea of brow-beating everybody, I just don’t think it’s been effective nationwide. You look around the country, you will literally have an elected official stand at the podium, wag their fingers, say, “You do not travel over the holidays.” And then literally, right when the press conference goes over, that same person is driving to the airport. You have somebody who’s saying, “We can’t open schools because it’s too dangerous.” And then therefore they’re caught on a beach somewhere in Puerto Rico. So I think we just need to say use common sense. But I think we have to recognize some of the misfires that some of the information and the advisory from particularly experts have had.

Gov. DeSantis: (34:59)
They’ve had some very contradictory advice over these many months, and I think some people have lost faith. And I worry about that not as much for behavior, but more for confidence in the vaccine. If you have experts saying the vaccine is good, which I think the data’s strong on it, we want people to take it. We’re not going to force anyone, but we want them. Are people going to be willing to say, “You know what? I trust that.” And I just think there’s been so many problems with some of the stuff that we’ve seen. So people, just use common sense. Particularly if you’re in an elderly population. Look, the light’s at the end of the tunnel now. People are getting vaccinated today, tomorrow. I can’t guarantee you, obviously, every senior is going to be able to get vaccinated tomorrow or the next day, but I can guarantee you, as long as we keep getting in, that’s going to be the priority. And we want to get it done as soon as possible.

Speaker 15: (35:49)
Governor, do you know about the residency issue? Because for a while it was like different counties were saying residents only. It’s a federal vaccine. It’s coming from the federal government. If you live in one county but there’s space in another county, do you have an issue with people going from county to county?

Gov. DeSantis: (36:05)
We have not imposed that requirement on anybody. I think that some health systems have also said, “We’re going to focus on our area.” My view is, when we do something like a drive-through test site, for example, if there’s one in Orlando… And we haven’t announced that yet, but if there is one, I’m not going to say it’s only for Orange County. Lake County, whoever in the area, we want to get shots in arms. And so I think the important thing is to get the shots in the arms. Now, there obviously has to be some structure to it, otherwise it’s not going to be as effective. But at the same time, I do not want to see a vaccine sitting around not being used when you could be putting a shot in an arm.

Speaker 13: (36:47)
Governor, do you know what that next group or sub-group is going to be and what the timing is on administrative? And could that include teachers?

Gov. DeSantis: (36:55)
Oh yeah. No, I think almost assuredly we would probably go to the workforce next. And I think the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a great way to do that. You literally could drop a bunch of vaccine at Disney, Orange County schools, wherever, and they can knock that out pretty quickly. And it’s one dose and done. So I think that makes more sense with essential workers. Apart from the different risks between elderly and essential workers… And look, I’ve criticized essential. Obviously I think things like teachers are very important, all this stuff. But I view people that are earning a living and putting food on the table as essential, because it’s essential to their family. And so we want to make it as widely available to the workforce. I think the reason why like a teachers would be great is because you have them all at the school. I think you could knock it out very quickly.

Gov. DeSantis: (37:46)
So from an efficiency standpoint, I think it would be great. We have obviously other major employers in Florida where I think they be able to knock it out very, very quickly. So that’s coming. I think it’s dependent on the numbers of seniors. One, we have 4.4 million seniors in Florida. And I said, obviously, we don’t have enough vaccine at the outset. People need to be patient and understand that, and I think they do. But we don’t know for sure what percentage of those over 65 are going to opt for the vaccine. I think many will, I think the majority will. But we’ve gone to some of the longterm care facilities and some have been 90%, some have been 50%.

Gov. DeSantis: (38:23)
Some have just said that they didn’t want to do it, and that’s fine. There’s not going to be any type of forcing. But as we get through and then we see how demand goes, we obviously, if there’s vaccine available and the senior demand goes down, it’s not going to happen anytime soon but maybe weeks in advance, months, then all of a sudden you’re looking at, okay, well let’s get it out there to folks. So we’re doing it. But I really think that the key to this for really doing well in the workforce is this Johnson & Johnson, the one dose. It makes it so much easier when you’re talking about workforce to be able to get that done. So that’s going to be our hope. I would just say monitor this. We’re going to…

Gov. DeSantis: (39:03)
So, that’s going to be our hope. I would just say, monitor this. We’re going to get news on Johnson and Johnson very soon, and I think it’s going to be good news, and I think that that will give us another arrow in the quiver as we continue to do this vaccination march. Thanks everybody. We’ll be back soon. Thank you guys. Appreciate it. Thank you for doing it. No adverse reaction is good.

Dr. George Rawls: (39:30)
Yeah. So, that’s the goal for next week is to make it more available to a larger group of folks that are 65 and older. And to include folks that are younger than that, that have medical conditions that make them more at risk. The one thing I would say is that because of the logistics of this vaccine distribution, it does require scheduling. So, we’ve really struggled with that even this week, with walk-ins as much as we’d like to accommodate all that, the supply forces us, the fact that the uncertainty about the supply forces us to say we know how many people are going to come for any given day or any given week, so that’s the plan for the coming week.

Speaker 16: (40:10)
So, are you going to have to [crosstalk 00:40:07].

Dr. George Rawls: (40:10)
Yes. That work is happening this week, so we’re trying to sophisticate our scheduling platform and also making sure that the communication that goes out is really, really clear about how to get it done within our system.

Speaker 17: (40:20)
You mentioned numbers. [crosstalk 00:01: 24].

Dr. George Rawls: (40:41)
No. So, the numbers are accurate. I don’t have the numbers to give you right now as far as a specific number. What I can tell you is that we know the majority of our healthcare staff have been vaccinated and it’s much higher in the physician and advanced practice professional group, which is really great. Which means those that are closest to patients know that this is an important game changer in a pandemic response. What do you do about those that don’t want it? It’s a personal choice right now. There are still really, really good ways to protect patients if you’re a healthcare provider. If you decide for some reason that’s not what you wanted to do. So, we’re respecting people’s right to make that decision for themselves.

Dr. George Rawls: (41:22)
Vaccination doesn’t change anything in terms of our infection control practices. Everybody in our hospital, as you all know, they have to wear a mask at all times, except when they’re talking in a microphone, or for patients as well. If a patient’s been vaccinated they’ll still be masked when they come in, so we’ve maintained our infection control measures in place. As this evolves and moves on, there might come a point in the future where mandating vaccines becomes more of a common conversation. That’s not where we are right now. So, people have a right to decide. We’re hoping that the information that they have available to them leads them to the right decision.

Speaker 18: (41:59)
From the people that you have seen, how many have adversity and what kind of adversity did they have?

Dr. George Rawls: (42:06)
Yeah. Very, very low in terms of adverse reactions. The most common thing that we’re seeing, which is what you probably have read, is that the little pain at the injection site, which you get with most vaccines. We’ve had some issues related to people responding to being stuck with a needle, that happens sometimes, they feel lightheaded. But in terms of adverse reactions, our workforce has not been impacted by this. So, that was one of the biggest concerns that we heard early on is if you vaccinate seven to 8,000 healthcare workers at once isn’t it possible that you’re going to have a massive amount of people out of work because of adverse reactions?

Dr. George Rawls: (42:43)
We had no choice but to move forward with a plan to get the vaccine out there, but we did not see that. We did not have a large number of people miss work after a vaccine. In fact, I don’t know if we had anybody miss work because of the vaccine. So, when you put it on balance, I would say that risk that we took was worth it. And now moving into the second phase of Pfizer vaccines this week, we’ll have to reanalyze that. But that’s something that we’re very, very careful about.

Speaker 19: (43:10)
How much of a heads up are you getting on, hey, this is the amount of Pfizer you’re getting on X,Y,Z day? And has it been on time, within the time frame?

Dr. George Rawls: (43:20)
It’s been on time so far, so good. The supply is limited. For instance, the Pfizer vaccine, one of the biggest questions or most common questions we get about dose one is, are you certain I’ll be able to get dose two? What if you don’t get the dose two vaccine? So far, so good. Our dose one Pfizer group, which happened back in December 18th is starting their second dose this week. And we just heard today that supply should be in hand by either today or tomorrow. So, that process is moving the way we had hoped. I think longterm, the biggest challenge we have in terms of scheduling is not knowing for sure how many doses we’ll get per week, but we’ll learn that as we see what that supply chain continues to look like.

Speaker 19: (44:00)
So, do you under schedule [crosstalk 00:44:02]

Dr. George Rawls: (44:04)
We are pretty close. We scheduled pretty close to what our inventory is because of the desire not to have vaccine sitting on the shelf. So, it is a bit of a balance and it means that it’s possible that on a week like this, where we have a high number of vaccine schedules, that we may end up at the end of the week with a struggle trying to meet that demand. But our goal is to make sure anybody who scheduled the vaccine gets it and that we can address those supply issues as they arise.

Speaker 20: (44:33)
Thank you. Thank you.

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