Jan 7, 2021
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 7
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on January 7. Read the transcript with updates on COVID-19 vaccine distribution here.
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Ron DeSantis: (00:00)
… I think Manatee County, both the County government, as well as the Department of Health here for all their great work. Also want to thank Senator Boyd and Representative Robinson for being here today. We’re going to highlight, some of the exciting developments that we’ve seen here in our collaboration with the county. Before I do that, I just want to make a quick statement. In September I was the first governor in the country to propose legislation, to really deal with some of the disorder and violent assemblies and rioting that we have been seeing throughout our country. I thought that you needed to have strong penalties and I 100% support people’s right. To be able to get together and protest and say what’s on their mind. The minute that that crosses over, I think there needs to be penalties. And so I think what you saw yesterday was a good example of taking a rally and having certain views, and then going into storm the Capitol like was done.
Ron DeSantis: (01:02)
It was totally unacceptable and those folks need to be held accountable. And it doesn’t matter what banner you’re flying under, the violence is wrong. The rioting and the disorder is wrong. We’re not going to tolerate it in Florida. I hope maybe now we’ll get even more support for my legislation, because it’s something that needs to be done. You can have strong views, you can be disappointed in an election. You can be disappointed in whatever, but you can’t just go in and ransack public, places like that. And so we’re going to make sure that, that the folks who do that in Florida, if they do that, they’re going to face very quick penalties. So today I want to highlight a county led vaccination site right here in Bradenton’s Tom Bennett Park. When the vaccines were distributed at the mid end of December, Manatee County had already been preparing to be able to provide vaccines for folks in their community.
Ron DeSantis: (01:59)
And so they came and asked the state to be able to support those efforts with vaccine allotments. And that was something that we were happy to do. And so here, what you see is a very well-run very efficient operation. They’re going to knock out 700 vaccinations today, and they’re focusing on seniors age 65 and up, frontline healthcare workers, as well as paramedics and EMTs. And so the drive-through portion is for seniors. Everyone else does more of a walk-up. Eight to nine is reserved for frontline healthcare workers that have the proper ID. And they’re also going to be late tonight, launching a new portal at mymanatee.org/vaccine. So folks can sign up. Now they’re doing, I think in a smart way. You don’t have to rush to do it because you do it, it goes into a lottery and then they do it just to try to decompress some of the crush that you see on these systems when things like that first go online.
Ron DeSantis: (02:58)
But we’re happy with what they’re doing. We’re glad to have been provided them with vaccine. I’ve told my folks to make sure we continue sending a vaccine to this area and this vaccine site, because they’re making good use of it. And I think they have the capacity to expand this. And as we get more vaccine, we definitely want to see them expand that. I’ve asked to have, right now we’re scheduled for our next shipment statewide to get about 250,000 doses split between Pfizer and Moderna, which if you look at the clip that it’s going now, we probably can use a lot more than that now that we have a lot of hospitals really ramping up and some other things going on. So, I’ve asked the feds to get some more. I think we have a variety of ways to be able to get these in the communities and our focus, of course, the first three weeks was nursing homes, long-term care, and then healthcare workers.
Ron DeSantis: (03:56)
Most hospitals have done their key frontline healthcare workers and vaccinated them. In fact, many of them now have even completed the series by doing the booster shot as well, and that’s very, very good. We were able to knock out over 100 nursing homes the first week before CVS and Walgreens got ramped up. Now, CVS and Walgreens is continuing that mission, but we also starting today, are going to do even more in that space because we want to make it go as quickly as possible. So 4,000 facilities in the state of Florida, I think you have, not all of them are skilled nursing facilities, but all various forms of long-term care.
Ron DeSantis: (04:35)
So that mission continues and we’re putting muscle behind it to try to get through it as quickly as possible. But as you’ve done that, and as hospitals have gotten through their workers, which are now seeing is hospitals being more aggressive with offering vaccinations to our senior citizens, and that’s our top priority at this point, understanding most of the healthcare workers have had access and the longterm care mission is ongoing, because they’re the most vulnerable to COVID-19, if you look. The number one age group so far that has received it in terms of the plurality in Florida, 65 to 74, and then 75 to 84 has got an excess of their proportion of the population.
Ron DeSantis: (05:17)
And same with 85 and plus in terms of how the vaccines being distributed. So the age is going to continue to skew older in terms of who’s getting the shots and that’s the best strategy to be able to reduce mortality, reduce hospital admissions. And so that’s the laser focus. And so what Manatee’s doing is doing a lot for that. I was in Miami yesterday with a similar site at Hard Rock Stadium that had been a big testing site. Now we’re using that for vaccines in addition to testing, and they’re going to be doing at least 1000 a day. And then you have other sites that we’re working with some of the hospitals where you’re going to be able to get through those types of numbers. We also partnered with Publix, and so today in three counties, Hernando, Citrus and Marion counties, folks are able to make an appointment to go to a Publix pharmacy.
Ron DeSantis: (06:11)
So there’s 22 Publix with pharmacies identified in those three counties. And Publix is going to look to do between 100 and 125 shots at each one. And that’s something that I think is going to be effective, because particularly our seniors are going to the grocery store. It’s convenient, it’s in every community, in the state of Florida. And it makes it easier than having to potentially drive halfway across town to go to a site like a drive-through site, which is great, but you can’t put a drive-through site on every corner. So we have identified doses for Publix, distributed doses for Publix. We think that that’s going to be well-received and it will be successful. And so we’re looking at potentially expanding that as a way to offer a vaccine to senior citizens in a way that’s convenient, and that’s easy for them.
Ron DeSantis: (07:03)
We’re also looking to bring vaccinations to folks in communities at places where they trust, such as houses of worship. And so I was in the panhandle yesterday and we’ve partnered with providing vaccines to one of the local hospitals. They’re working with local officials, church and community leaders, and they’re getting through at two different sites, 1000 a day at each site. We’re going to be working with more churches, synagogues, and other places of worship. Part of the vaccine issue is we see a really big demand, particularly among seniors right now. And obviously, we’re going to continue to see that. It’ll go down as more seniors get vaccinated. But you do see different levels of demand in different communities, race, ethnicity, some of that stuff. So we just want to be able to bring it to folks. Communities have leaders who they trust, talk about why it would be a good thing, and then try to make sure that the numbers are strong across all the demographics.
Ron DeSantis: (08:10)
And so you’ll be seeing more of that very, very soon. But I think that the decision to focus on our senior citizens is the right one. I can tell you folks are happy to be able to get this done. Most states in the country right now, if you’re 71, you’re not even eligible to get vaccinated right now. And some haven’t even opened it up beyond healthcare workers and nursing homes yet. And so, we’re seeing our numbers go up every day. The capacity is increasing every day. And as we get more supply, I can then send more to Manatee County so that they can take their existing infrastructure and do even more. So all in all, I think that appreciate what they’re doing here. We think they’re doing it right. We want to continue to support that. And that’s kind of the overriding objective I’ve given to my logistics folks and emergency management is, look, let’s get it too them.
Ron DeSantis: (09:08)
If someone can get the shots in the arms, particularly of seniors, then let’s facilitate that. What we don’t want is to have someone sit on vaccine for two or three weeks and not use it. And so there’s vaccine being moved around every day. Some counties aren’t moving as fast and it’s nothing against it. So there’s reasons why you may not be moving as fast, but if you have two weeks worth, we know we’re going to continue to get more. So let’s take some of that and send that to places that are going to be doing a good job and doing it quickly. So thanks Manatee, we appreciate what you’re doing. I’m going to be able to go help. We’re going to do a couple other sites today. We’re going to be down in Indian River County. Then I’m also going to be on the East coast of Florida as well.
Ron DeSantis: (09:52)
So we’re starting to see, and I think what you’re seeing is the hospitals that were one of the first five that got the Pfizer, they were a little bit ahead of all the other hospitals, just because they were able to vaccinate and they were working on their staffs. Now you’re starting to see the hospitals that got the Moderna basically right before Christmas, they had to work on their staffs. A lot of the staff weren’t there in New Year’s, Christmas. So, they’ve gotten in a better place there. And now you’re starting to see some of those institutions out, really being active and really again, with the focus on senior citizens. So let’s keep going forward. Let’s work collaboratively from local, state and federal, and let’s continue to put seniors first. Thanks, questions?
Speaker 2: (10:35)
Ron DeSantis: (10:42)
Well, what I’ve said is you can file suits. There’s political ways to do it. In no way have I ever supported any type of lawlessness or anything like that. So that’s totally antithetical. Again, I’m the first governor to really take this very seriously with my legislation. Not everyone agreed with that legislation. There were some people trying to say it wasn’t a big deal to have some of these things going on. If you go back to the summer, some of the commentary I disagreed with that, but I don’t care what banner you’re flying. If you’re engaging in that conduct, we’re going to hold you accountable.
Speaker 3: (11:17)
Ron DeSantis: (11:31)
Yeah. When there’s a need, we want to fill the need, for sure. I think you’re going to start seeing these doses get used, and I think there’s going to be less that is going to be sitting on the shelf all across the state very soon. That’s why we’ve asked, can you double our allotment for next week? Because we have the infrastructure now to where if I put that in, I’m pretty confident they’re going to get it. So what happens is once we get the final numbers for the week, again, we’re scheduled at about 250 between both. We think that’s what will happen. There’s a system that they go, we know we figure out when it’s going to ship, and we usually get them on either Monday or Tuesday. But what the state has done with emergency management is if there’s a county that has two weeks worth, they are moving it around to folks who were able to use it.
Speaker 4: (12:17)
Ron DeSantis: (12:26)
So some hospitals, I think there’s a mix. You’re starting to see this week in particular because everyone’s back from the holidays. So some of them been able to really ramp up. And so they’ve asked us, “Hey, I told you I could do 10,000 this week. I actually can probably do 20,000. Can you move more vaccines?” So that has happened. And there are some hospitals that weren’t using as much. And some of those, we’ve asked to kind of help out. But I think that you’re starting to see everyone get in a pretty good groove. And remember, the allotments we have, there’s tens of thousands of doses additional that are at CVS and Walgreens for the long-term care mission. And so they’re going on a schedule and that is what it is. And then there’s also a lag in the reporting.
Ron DeSantis: (13:12)
And so you look at one county and they say there’s X number of shots. There’s surely more than that, because sometimes this stuff takes 72 hours to trickle in to everything. And so that’s, I think that the nature of what we’re dealing with, but the first couple of weeks, particularly over the holidays, there were definitely some hospitals that had a lot of supply. And if you look at New Year’s Eve and New Year’s and Christmas day, there weren’t a lot of shots being administered at hospitals on those days. But you kind of understand why that was the case. So yes, ma’am last one.
Speaker 5: (13:46)
Ron DeSantis: (13:57)
So the question is, how long will take to vaccinate everyone 65 and older. So we have 4.4 million folks who are 65 and older. Not all of them are going to want it. Now we think the majority are going to want it, but not all of them going to want it. We’ve gone into nursing homes and we’ve had some nursing homes where 90% take it. There’s been others where we’re 50% of the residents took it. And so that’s a choice people are going to make. So you’re looking at, we would say a minimum of 3 million are going to want it. So if you look at how the numbers go and as we get into a groove, the vast majority of shots from here on out are likely going to be senior citizens, the vast majority. And so we want to go all these sites.
Ron DeSantis: (14:38)
We want seven days a week, we’re trying to hit strong numbers. Here’s what I know: we’re going to do significantly more shots this week than last week throughout the state. And we will do, as long as we get more supply, we’ll do more shots next week then we’ve done this week. And so that’s the type of momentum that I think we want to continue. We’re going to be going to more senior communities and getting into those communities, especially I think we’re working on some stuff in central Florida and they just want to make sure that they’re doing it right.
Ron DeSantis: (15:07)
So, you can look at those numbers and just see it. And keep in mind, if you look at what was yesterday, check again three days because they keep adding as reporting trickles in. It doesn’t happen instantaneously, unfortunately. So I think you’re going to continue to see the numbers go up. But if you’re at a situation where you’re at 50,000 shots a day on average, that’s a pretty good chunk that you’re going to be able to do. So our goal is to get it done as quickly as possible. We will be back soon, everybody. Thank you so much. Take care.