Jul 16, 2020

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis July 16 COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript

Ron DeSantis Press Conference Transcript July 16
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsFlorida Governor Ron DeSantis July 16 COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on July 16. DeSantis said Florida will divert COVID-19 tests to labs with shorter turnaround times. Read the full news briefing here.


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Ron DeSantis: (00:00)
… Wilton Simpson here who’s really been a champion for our youth and also for these mental health initiatives. We have Dr. Jay Reed, who’s President and CEO of Apalachee Center up in Tallahassee. So I want to thank you for what you’re doing. We have Danny Burgess, who’s the former Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, executive director, also from the Tampa Bay area. And then we have Dakota Dixon, safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So thank you for coming.

Ron DeSantis: (00:27)
When the pandemic hit, obviously there’s a lot of concern about what the virus is doing, who’s getting infected, hospitalizations, and obviously it’s a very critical issue. It is also the case that the pandemic has had other health effects that we’re still coming to terms with. And quite frankly, they’re going to be with us for a long time.

Ron DeSantis: (00:53)
One I’ve talked about, and pretty much every physician you talk about around hospitals in the State of Florida, we’ll talk about the alarming decrease in people in March, particularly March and April of people who were going to the ED for heart and stroke symptoms. And whether that was out a fear of catching coronavirus, whether it was a belief that there weren’t going to be medical services. That has basically allowed some conditions to worsen. And so, now you look in ICUs, you have people with those conditions now in Florida and across the country who are in more critical condition than they probably would have been had they gotten the care. So the message from those hospitals and from me has been, if you have those, you do need to get care.

Ron DeSantis: (01:38)
You also look at what we’ve done to do things like protecting our nursing homes by… We were one of the first states to not allow outside visitors into nursing homes. We feared the introduction of the virus into a population, which is by far the most vulnerable to COVID-19. And I think we had to do that, but we also have to recognize that that comes at a significant cost in terms of mental wellbeing, family connection. Now, we in the state, and I know other organizations have tried to lessen that by providing things like iPads, so that the residents can speak to their family members. And I think that that’s good, but that has been a really significant price to pay.

Ron DeSantis: (02:20)
You also look at hospitals when people are in the hospital not being able to have family members come in many hospitals. I’ve encouraged to try to have the visitation, cause I think it’s important, but you’re looking at a situation where you don’t want to see this virus be introduced into a hospital situation. So I totally understand that, but that comes at cost because you’re having these real critical moments in people’s lives. And then, they’re cut off from physical presence of their loved ones, and so that comes at a significant cost. We also have our youth who, when you move to distance learning, were not going to school, were not seeing their friends as much. And they’ve had to really see some major changes in their life.

Ron DeSantis: (03:09)
So these are all really significant issues. These are all issues that we’ve got to face in a very direct way. And I’m glad that the folks are here today to have this discussion. In this most recent legislative session, we really focused on a couple of things, but one of them was Senate bill 1326. The first lady was involved with that. Chad was involved with it. Senator Simpson was involved with it. And it’s really a comprehensive bill tackling a number of issues, not just with mental health, but with child welfare. We had a lot of tough choices to make in the budget. As you know, the revenue situation is different than it was looking in January or February. I had to veto a record amount, $1 billion, but I tried to preserve the things that we really view as significant achievements. And so, we talked yesterday at the state board of education about the increase in teacher compensation to make us number five in the nation for average minimum salary. I talked about doing some of the things we’ve done for our waterways. Very, very important. In this year’s budget, even after the vetoes, we were able to increase mental health funding in K through 12 public schools by $25 million. So that’s a total of $100 million.

Ron DeSantis: (04:31)
We have $5.5 million for youth mental health awareness and assistance training for school personnel and $4 million for mental health services via telehealth. It’s very important that we have this funding. It’s critical. And we also worked very hard at breaking down some of the regulations that prevented there to be more telehealth and more innovation. And we’re going to continue to do that because it really is important. I’m going to turn over to the first lady, but I think it will be instructive about what’s the call volume like with COVID? How is this affecting things? What are you seeing at DCF? How’s it affecting veterans? And obviously the doctor and [inaudible 00:05:13]. So I’ll kick it over to her, but I want to thank everybody. We’re going to have to continue. We’re going to have to be on multiple fronts on this thing. And the mental health component is one that is going to be with us for a long time.

Casey DeSantis: (05:26)
Yeah. Well, first of all, I want to say, it’s good to see you. Usually don’t see the better half very often. He was out the door very early this morning, which he is typically, and he missed a doozy on his way out the door, because if many of you may know, we have three children, three and under. So we have a three year old, a two year old, and a four month old. So it’s a little busy in the DeSantis household. And my daughter decided that she wanted to make a stroller parade. So I’m happy that we were here on time because my daughter was very particular about who got what stroller and what on what. So being a parent, we get it, right? Everybody can smile to themselves, but we made it here in one piece.

Casey DeSantis: (06:03)
But I just appreciate you guys taking the time to come here. And I think this is going to be a really great discussion. I was talking to a friend the other day who is doing distance learning in another state. And she has two girls who are 10 years old. And I said, “How are the girls doing? How are you guys? How are you holding up?” And she told me, she goes, “Well, there’s a lot of tears.” And I said, “Oh, are the other girls okay?” She goes, “No, me.” And she’s really having a difficult time. And so, that’s something you need to take into consideration. We talk about our kids, but we need to talk about the parents and that everyone is enduring this crisis.

Casey DeSantis: (06:36)
And so, there’s no doubt about it that it’s having an impact on our mental health. Before the pandemic, many of you may know that this was a passion of mine, talking about mental wellness. And what does that mean for our first responders? What does that mean for our children? What does that mean for our educators? What does that mean just for anyone who just needs to find help? How do they do that simplistically? Now, I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to be putting this into high gear, but this really needs to be a robust part of the conversation. I think about some of the initiatives that I’ve had the good fortune and really honored to be able to champion the Hope for Healing Initiative, Hope Ambassadors, Hope Innovators. This is working with the Department of Education to go around, to find best practices for the now $100 million that they put into the budget for mental health for our students. That’s up from $75 million to a $100 million.

Casey DeSantis: (07:26)
The legislature, we appreciate what they’ve done to do that. And so that’s really a great opportunity to provide these services. And I think about something that we did with the secretary in the panhandle, when we were looking at post Hurricane Michael. We went out there very early. We saw that there was a need for mental health for the students. And because it was a rural area, because there weren’t a lot of providers in the area, we really honed in there to find out how do we provide tele mental health? And so, we deployed resources to 63 different public schools there, and we’re really ahead of the game and learned a lot about what it takes to provide these services for the kids. And this was early last year. So now, we’re taking all that information and we’re looking, how can we take that innovative product through the Department of Children and Families, and then expand it across the state so that not only the students can utilize it, the faculty can utilize it.

Casey DeSantis: (08:18)
The parents, were seeing that in the panhandle, they’re utilizing these services. I look at the facts of your future drug campaign prevention program that we launched within the schools. As chair of the Children and Youth Cabinet, one of the things that we’ve really been focusing on is youth suicide. And one of the main components where we left the cabinet was the power and the impact of mentorship. And we’re going to get into that in a second too. And we’ll even maybe get the incoming Senate president to talk about how having a mentor and having a rigorous schedule when he was younger and in high school and had that accountability really propelled him to the success that he sees today. But we’ve talked about that in the cabinet, that these mentors are so invaluable for the development of our youth. Having a coach, that they can go and confide in, having that teacher or someone that they can go and having that outlet is so important.

Casey DeSantis: (09:13)
And so, that’s one of the things we tasked the Children and Youth Cabinet with. And we’re waiting on getting Alan Abramowitz who’s with Guardian Ad Litem. He heads that up. He’s going to be giving us some intel. And he was looking at best practices way early on for what are some of the best mentorship programs that are out there that we can then utilize. And so, we’re going to be doing more with that, but I think it’s really safe to say that this is important. This has always been important. This continues to be important. And we’re going to keep working on this because we know that there are tough times. I think we’re going to talk about what we’re seeing now, as far as utilization rates, but what we’re anticipating as this lingers on and how this is going to affect people. And people who might not necessarily have ever sought help in the past.

Casey DeSantis: (09:58)
Now, they’re thinking to themselves, how do I do this? How do I go and access the help that I’ve never had to research before and finding that simplistic way for people to be able to get meaningful help? Because we talk about kids look to their parents and they take their cues off their parents a lot of times. If the parents are stressed, that translates to the kids. And so being in a good place, mental wellness is extremely important, but I’ll tell you this. I’m a 100% confident we’re going to get through this. I can tell you every day I wake up and I see the better half with the numbers. I see him working his tail off. That’s why I joked at the top. I said, it’s good to see him again, because he’s in the office 24/7. But I can tell you, there’s a lot of people who were in the office 24/7, and they’re working their tails off.

Casey DeSantis: (10:45)
And we’re great people. We’re Floridians. We’re Americans. We’re going to get through this. And along the way, if you need a little mental health help, we’re going to provide it. We’re going to find the 211s. And Clara, you’ve done a magnificent job of giving that outreach.

Clara: (11:00)
Thank you very much.

Casey DeSantis: (11:01)
And so if you need the help along the way, we’re going to make sure you get that. Because at the end of this, we’re going to be bigger. We’re going to be stronger. And we’re going to be on the right track to seeing success back in society. It’s just a matter of time. And so I was so humbled to be here, to do this. I’m so humbled to have the opportunity through the better half, to head up another look at how we’re going to work with mental health throughout the state. And I’m really humbled to be here with really great people. One of which is the secretary, who you were on the phone with quite a bit. And Secretary, one of the things I wanted to talk with you about is we talk about the child crisis hotline, and that is for, unfortunately, God forbid that they’re noticing children who are potentially being abused or they’re suspect. They call that hotline. You’ve seen a decrease in those calls and that isn’t necessarily something that’s good.

Secretary Chad Poppell: (11:54)
No ma’am and thank you for the question. Thanks for having me. The child abuse hotline every year, when school lets out, sees around a 25% reduction in calls. Our number one reporter, mandatory reporter of child abuse, are our teachers. And so every summer we see this lag. When the schools let out, we actually saw a greater than normal drop in calls and it has persisted for some time. So instead of having a two and a half month break where teachers don’t get to see the kids, we’re working on a much longer period of time. And so that’s one of the things that we’re actually very concerned about.

Secretary Chad Poppell: (12:35)
At the department, there’s a number of other child related issues that COVID has affected. Our courts in large part, they’ve switched to tele court hearings, but there’s some proceedings they’re not comfortable doing without doing it in person. And so, we have some children that are probably going to be in the system a bit longer than we would like. And the visitation, court ordered visitation with parents was something that had to be suspended. You have families, foster families out here with the children who out of the goodness of their heart are taking these kids into their homes. And then having the children go out to different places in the community. There’s a high level of concern.

Secretary Chad Poppell: (13:13)
So there’s a number of pieces of child welfare system that have seen some, I would call it, a step back that we are focused very heavily on and we are very concerned about. In general across if I may talk a little about the other things we’ve seen at DCF. We had a significant increase in interest in our SNAP benefits, folks that that needed food benefits. We’ve been able to handle that increased volume successfully.

Secretary Chad Poppell: (13:45)
We also, because school let out, the free and reduced lunch program that folks really count on during the school year was suspended. I know schools were delivering meals onsite. The federal government passed the law where the pandemic and EBT was authorized. We’ve gotten payment to over 2 million students, Florida students in the last several weeks. So there’s been a lot of positive things happening in that regard.

Secretary Chad Poppell: (14:10)
And one of the things I’m glad the governor teed it up on the mental health side. One of the things we’re very excited about, and I’m happy to be able to say that throughout the pandemic, our systems of care, our community based systems of care be it child welfare, be it mental health, substance abuse, et cetera. We have not lost the ability to help somebody that needed assistance in each community since COVID began. So our networks took on a significant stress test and passed with flying colors.

Secretary Chad Poppell: (14:39)
Not saying everything was great. We had to do some pivoting obviously on the ground, but our partners have been fantastic. I’m happy to be here with two of them today, but what really happened was telehealth has been around for a long time. And it just hasn’t been a significant part of the delivery. And what COVID has done is it’s forced us to really jump in and make it a significant part of the delivery. And I know there’s a lot of people that were confident in it, but there was kind of like let’s hope it goes well. I’m going to let you guys talk about how it’s gone. But from our perspective, we are seeing some of the top line numbers that we really care about really improve. And so, it’s something that at the department we’re looking at. We don’t want to go back.

Secretary Chad Poppell: (15:23)
One of the problems we have is it’s one thing to make services available. It’s another thing for a person to actually go. And so, I’ll let you guys speak to that, but we’ve seen significant increases in people actually going to the session and getting the help that they need. Very significant in some cases. I’ll let you guys give your own numbers, but early on we’re talking about a 40% differences in show up rates in some parts of the state. So we’re really excited about what we’ve learned and what we can take forward to help. We obviously have the set of issues that we’re concerned about and managing, but I think there’s some things we can learn from this that are going to make us better down the road.

Casey DeSantis: (16:04)
Thank you [inaudible 00:16:06]. Incoming Senate President. And I owe you a big thank you. We worked very hard along with the secretary here on Senate bill 1326, that the governor invoked and signed, and we’re really appreciative of all of your hard work. We’ve had conversations on it many times about what we can do to benefit Florida’s children. It’s just that important. And I think we’re going to see that a lot under your leadership.

Casey DeSantis: (16:25)
And not to say anything in front of the press, but you were talking about a personal story. You said you might not have been the person that you have become and seeing the success that you have today, had it not been for the accountability that you had when you were in school. A rigorous schedule, you said. With not having the opportunity to have a place to go and people to interact with, you might not have wound up as now Senate President.

Senator Simpson: (16:53)
Absolutely. And thank you personally for your hard work last year on our bills and being really a force to help us get those bills finished. And the governor has done a great job. And an all of these things required great leadership. When you’re looking at a pandemic, first time I’ve been through one. I just turned 54 years old, and hopefully this will be the only one, but yeah. We’re talking about a couple of things. So bringing permanency to children’s lives is going to be very important. Last year with the bills that we worked on, it helped bring a lot more transparency to the ideal that we can get children adopted much quicker and through the foster care system.

Senator Simpson: (17:34)
And so I think going into next year, we’re really looking at how do we bring our 33,000 kids that are in foster care today, how do we bring that number down to maybe 10,000 over the next five years, where we give those children permanency? If you give them permanency, you then have dealt with a lot of the mental health issues and things of that nature that go along with those children’s lives. It gives them a real opportunity to be successful. And in my life, and we were talking about it with-

Senator Simpson: (18:02)
… In my life, and we were talking about it with one of our new Buccaneers here, and we were talking about football and high school. I grew up in a very poor area of the state, Trilby and Lacoochee. Lacoochee is probably the poorest area actually in the state and we played football together. All of us piled in my car and made it home back to Trilby. Of course, if I wasn’t at football practice, I’d been at work more often. But we really enjoyed that discipline and the coaches that we had, and I still have coaches that were on my high school team, live locally, I live in a small town, and really gave us real, tremendous guidance through those high school years.

Senator Simpson: (18:40)
I think that’s what’s important as we move forward. We have to realize that the consequences of not opening our schools back up in a safe fashion, the mental health effect that it would have on all of the students, but in particularly, a lot of the students that depend on sports and athletics to go to the next level, to go to college, that help bring discipline to their lives. I think it’s very important that, in a safe fashion, that we have these seasons this year, under whatever guidelines we have to do it. It’s very important to have sports, the camaraderie. Then I would like to say, that in addition, the virtual learning, tele telemedicine, virtual learning, all of those things are going to be a part of our lives going forward. The pandemic has certainly speeded those things up.

Senator Simpson: (19:25)
So I’m hopeful that, with our children, that we can make sure that we’re providing the right type of technology to where they can have virtual friends when they can’t be in person. But I hope we get back to normal in a reasonable period of time. Obviously, our pharmaceutical industry is doing a great job. We may have a vaccine here in a few months if we’re successful, Maderna’s successful. So we’re looking forward to coming into the next legislative session with all of these things in mind, telemedicine, telehealth for our mental health, and to make sure that we can bring our children into some more of a stable and permanency. Then the ones that have permanency that just need somewhere to go, hopefully we can get those children back to normal, going to school, hanging out with their friends and all those things are very important and I really appreciate your help in these areas.

Casey DeSantis: (20:17)
Thank you! Dr. Reeve from Tallahassee. I’ll give you a little background on who he is. He is serving currently as the CEO of the Appalachia Center in Tallahassee. I think you’ve doing that now, for 15 years-

Dr. Reeve: (20:27)
10 years. Yes, ma’am.

Casey DeSantis: (20:27)
Not that we’re counting. But prior to that, he was a Senior Psychologist at Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island. He also was a Clinical Assistant Professor at Brown University. Dr. Reeve, you a bachelor from Tufts, masters, PhD from Harvard University. I know this is something I’m recently, you had a pretty big announcement. You’re partnering with the FSU University and your center to provide services to the community of Tallahassee, for mood and anxiety. A couple of things. One, you’ve seen an uptick in people asking for help. And also you say that you think that this is just kind of the start. That we might start to see more of this, more demand for services, as more people seeking out mental care health as this goes on.

Dr. Reeve: (21:13)
Thank you, First Lady. I appreciate it very much you having me here today. One of the things, there’s been a couple of really interesting things that have come out of the pandemic on an emotional and mental health side, and the first piece that I really want to acknowledge, and it goes along with what Secretary Pablo mentioned, is the leadership that we’ve gotten from the DeSantis administration and from the legislature. The maintenance of the huge majority of the mental health programs through a very, very tough budget year, Governor, we very much appreciate that in the field. The leadership around opening up tele-health and tele-mental health. That was something that happened in Florida faster than it did in other states.

Dr. Reeve: (22:04)
That was a direct consequence of the leadership of the Governor and the First Lady, the Secretary Pablo, Secretary Mayhew, which allowed us to do our jobs and to the point that you were making a moment ago, First Lady, what we saw with that was a pretty significant uptick in kept appointments for our prescribers. So our center in February was doing about 10% of its business via telemedicine on an outpatient basis. We pivoted pretty rapidly to the point that we’re now doing about 85% of our outpatient business via telemedicine. Our kept appointment rates for counselors and for psychologists and psychiatrists have actually increased by probably about 30%.

Dr. Reeve: (22:57)
They were already reasonably high for the field, but we’ve seen a real measurable uptick. So I very much appreciate Secretary Pablo, you’re talking about wanting to keep that, because I think that’s going to be really good for our community. There’s another kind of leadership though, which has also been exhibited by our First Lady and by our administration. There’s a stigma about mental illness. There’s not even an argument about it. There are all kinds of barriers, historically, emotionally, to people seeking treatment for medical conditions that they need.

Dr. Reeve: (23:38)
The only way to get past that stigma is to have prominent public voices speaking against it, not just talking against the stigma itself, but just talking about mental illness, talking about mental health, talking about anxiety, making it a non-forbidden subject. That’s something that in 35 years in the field, I’ve never seen until now with your administration and it’s remarkable. It’s an incredible breath of fresh air. I think as a field, we’ve made a tremendous leap forward because of your championship. That goes to exactly what we’re talking about in terms of the emotional effects of COVID, because the basic building blocks of healthy self-esteem for children and for adults have to do with community and connection. That’s where it comes from. That’s where you learn to work with other people. That’s where you learn to work and to love and to connect.

Dr. Reeve: (24:35)
When that building block of community is undermined through necessary social isolation, that comes with a disease like this one, what we will expect is an increase, particularly in different kinds of anxiety disorders, but through the anxiety disorders and pretty much every kind of psychiatric issue, we’re going to see those rise, the longer folks aren’t able to connect. I think what’s so important, what you’re doing right now, is to make that public, to make that part of the conversation and to help connect folks with services like the Crisis Center of Tampa, like the other 911 services and immediate access to services that exist throughout this state. Because we can have those services and Secretary Pablo can fund them, and the legislature can underwrite them. But if people don’t use them, we’re not getting where we want to be. As the Secretary said, we maintained a 100% of capacity throughout this crisis. The services are there. We just want to make sure that people are connected and using them. I think this is exactly the way to get there. So I appreciate that very much.

Casey DeSantis: (25:58)
Thank you, Dr. Reeve, thank you! Great, Danny Burgess, it’s good to see you again. A little bit, a former Director of the Florida Department of Veterans affairs, and now running for the Senate. You know firsthand one of the passions, we’ve had many conversations about, our great veterans. These are men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we hold dear and often times they suffer, but they do so silently. They don’t tell anyone, they are proud. They don’t want to reach out and admit that they need help. One of the neat things about the 211 that Clara will talk to you, and I had the privilege of coming here before, with the Secretary and others, was talking about the peer-to-peer program. So when someone calls 211 or they call the number that you have specifically for veterans, that they can be patched through to a veteran, to have that personal conversation with someone that they can relate to, about the crisis that they’re having.

Casey DeSantis: (26:48)
I know that was something that was near and dear to your heart when you were here, trying to make a difference. I mean, after all, we owe it to our great folks who have served this country. Even our first responders. I know we have a program going through too, because that’s often something that we’ve talked about as well, is our men and women in uniform. They’re suffering too, dealing with this. So Dan, can talk a little bit about what you anticipate, knowing that this has always been a really heart wrenching problem that we see, I hate to even say, 21 veterans committing suicide a day. That’s a sobering and very awful statistic.

Danny Burgess: (27:23)
It is. It’s a staggering statistic and death by suicide amongst our veteran population, is absolutely a state of emergency. I’d be remissed, if I didn’t echo what Dr. Reeve just said and that’s, make no mistake about it, that this unprecedented crisis that we’re experiencing today with the pandemic, we are in a far better position to address these mental health issues because of the spotlight that you and the Governor and your administration has shown from the very beginning, from the first days you were in office.

Danny Burgess: (27:52)
So thank you for putting us in a position where we can jump on this now and start to address the second and third order effects that we’re experiencing now and will be experiencing for some time, due to what we’ve all gone through now together in this pandemic. So Florida is home to 1.5 million veterans, which makes us, are we the second largest? Have we officially surpassed that?

Govenor DeSantis: (28:14)
I think we are second. I don’t know that they’ve made it official yet.

Danny Burgess: (28:17)
I think it’s unofficially official. We’ll go with, we’re unofficially, officially the second largest veteran population in the nation. That’s a big, big mission, and that’s a big part of the population of the State of Florida. So thank you very much for always focusing in, as a veteran yourself Governor, and First Lady for making that a priority to address the unique mental needs, mental health needs of our veteran population.

Danny Burgess: (28:45)
The biggest issue, I think, facing veterans today, especially when it comes to mental health related issues is the issue of awareness. That goes back to the spotlight that you’ve been putting on this. It’s making sure that our veterans are connected to the services that are available to them. And Governor, you helped kick off our Ford March initiative a little while ago, but it feels about an entirety ago now, but I think it was about a year and a half ago. We traveled the entire State of Florida to try to find and identify organizations like Clara’s, that connect veterans to those mental health needs, that are those crisis intervention touchpoints.

Danny Burgess: (29:22)
That brings me to Clara, who is an absolute rock star in this field and a dear friend. Clara, I don’t want to steal your thunder, because I know you’re going to talk about it, but veteran’s specific, she runs a peer-to-peer network, that when you’re a veteran and you pick up the phone and you’re in crisis and you call 1844-MY-FLVET and you identify as a veteran, you’re going to be connected to a veteran, which that peer-to-peer connection is absolutely mission critical for a veteran.

Danny Burgess: (29:48)
It allows them to open up and who’s the person in this room that really helped make that possible? It’s the man sitting across the way from me and my fellow Pasco-proud member of the Florida Senate and Wilton Simpson, just is a tireless advocate for the pilot program that was established years ago, I think it was 2014. That allowed the funding to be distributed to the Crisis Center at Tampa Bay to make this dream a reality and the impacts of what you’ve done are profound. So thank you both so much for what you’ve done to commit to this issue. As now, you take that pilot and you try to make it statewide. We stand behind you 100%.

Danny Burgess: (30:24)
Lastly, I’ll just speak to what we were doing just before the pandemic really struck the State of Florida. We were in DC for the Governor’s Challenge. So the Governor’s Challenge is an initiative that Governor DeSantis accepted from Washington, DC, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, is we like to call it FDDA, big VA. That was a challenge to have states sign up, to help end the death by suicide rate, and come up with a state action plan to do so. So we were poised and working on addressing this issue right up until the moment that this really started to hit us here at home and we had to restrict travel.

Danny Burgess: (31:02)
So we were up advocating for that issue, working on our state plan. I know the team is still working diligently on getting that plan together. So all the pieces were in place and we may not have prepared for what we’re dealing with today, but all the pieces were in place to be ready for what might come. We didn’t expect this, but obviously because of the leadership that’s sitting in front of us right now, we are in a better posture to do so. So thank you both so much for all you’re doing. Greatly appreciate you and good to be back with the team.

Casey DeSantis: (31:29)
Thank you! Dakota, we had the privilege of meeting you a second ago. First of all, congratulations on signing as a free agent over with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I was saying he’s a big, big fan of the Bucks. You really have a great story of overcoming adversity and your faith really guides your way and you were playing football, I think it was at New Smyrna High School, is where you started the play football?

Dakota: (31:56)
Yes ma’am. New Smyrna Beach High school.

Casey DeSantis: (31:58)
New Smyrna High school. I was telling the better a second ago.

Govenor DeSantis: (31:59)
It’s a great community.

Casey DeSantis: (32:00)
It is. That’s our old area.

Govenor DeSantis: (32:02)
We had and that the congressional district for six years.

Casey DeSantis: (32:05)
It’s a beautiful area. It’s a great place. Actually, when he was in the campaign, we would go out and we would knock on doors and, “Where are we going to go today?” He’d say, “I’m going to New Smyrna Beach.” Because it’s like being on vacation, I was like, “I’ll spend a few minutes at the beach and then I’ll go and knock out a few doors.” But I was ragging on the better half a second ago, I was saying, “Hey, at the combine, he did 20 reps at 225 bench press.” I was like, “Man, where are you on some of that stuff?” But really, I have to say, thanks for being here. One of the most important things is I kind of alluded to a second ago, was the important of having community, the importance of having mentorship to having somebody who can help guide you through, who can help you unearth the success that you have inside yourself that you clearly have done. You have done amazing things. Talk about how important that was growing up for you to have somebody there helping to guide you through, even the tough times.

Dakota: (32:58)
Absolutely, First Lady, yes and [inaudible 00:33:02] Simpson, he spoke it on it well. The community aspect that I was able to afford through athletics is what’s privileged me to be right and all before you all today. Thank you guys for also having me here as well. But for a critical aspect of that, oftentimes athletics, it provides this bridge where a lot of kids who don’t have the things at home, like a parent or even a model or a good neighborhood or whatever it is that they may grow up in, whatever the environment they may be, that may be lacking, that they need, I was able to afford a lot of that stuff in a controlled environment like athletics. Through the gift of that, I thank God that he blessed me and gifted me with the abilities to play this game.

Dakota: (33:53)
Because through that, I’ve afforded these opportunities to regain all this exposure that I would have never, ever, ever had. It’s afforded me relationships that are just invaluable. I mentioned earlier, we talked about some of the organizations through athletics, FCA, Athletes in Action, to this day, I have mentors that I am connected with, well connected with. They have walked me through what it’s like to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It’s definitely impacted my walk as a human being today, 100%, as a young adult, standing before for you all as a rookie, all of that stuff, it definitely has impacted me in that way. Because of it, it’s actually why I have community now. So I have a mentorship, named Doug Gilbert, who’s was a teen chaplain for the Bucks. He doesn’t chapel any longer, but he’s a mentor, along with a couple of other guys that I fellowship with weekly. Obviously, that’s through virtual right now, through Zoom and everything. But nonetheless, it has created this foundation that is definitely provided… that serviced me well to be where I am today, 100%.

Casey DeSantis: (34:57)
Thank you. And Clara, it’s good seeing you again.

Clara: (35:03)
Great to see you. Thank you so much for being here today.

Casey DeSantis: (35:07)
We had the privilege of coming here last year to learn about all the great things that you were doing with the 211, of course the veterans hotline for them to be able to access help. We talked about that a second ago and the first responders, which is very important. One of the things that we both said along the way is, it’s really important and I think Dr. Reeve’s touched upon it, we’ve talked about this too. It’s one thing to have these services. There’s a grant of $4.9 million, a lot of that’s going to the 211, but if nobody knows that those exist, then how do they access those services? Especially in this time where people who might not necessarily have ever thought of accessing mental health needs, now might just need that one person to talk to. Sometimes all it takes, wouldn’t you say, is just getting it off of your chest?

Clara: (35:47)
Absolutely. Our here at the Crisis Center is to ensure that no one in our community has to face crisis alone. That word, crisis can make folks a little bit uncomfortable, but we think about crisis as a life problem that needs a solution. So what may be a crisis for me, maybe different for Mr.-

Clara: (36:03)
And so what may be a crisis for me, may be different for Mr. Dixon, may be different for Secretary [Pablo 00:36:06] But because we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we’re part of a network in our state. And, again, thanks to the incredible leadership that we have here, we’re very fortunate here in Hillsborough County to answer those calls to 211. We take between 200 to 250 calls a day into 211 for a variety of issues that individuals may have. And we really started seeing those numbers increase with COVID. We started tracking our COVID numbers around February 29th. We had about five people that we call. They were really concerned about their health and safety. And then we watched those numbers escalate to the point that we were taking thousands of calls from individuals just here in Hillsborough County.

Clara: (36:48)
We’re very, very concerned about their economic stability. They were concerned about how they were going to teach their children, how they’re going to put food on their table. And calls, it used to just take about seven minutes for us to be able to help folks find a solution. It was now taking us 15 to 20 minutes because folks were calling with symptoms. Symptoms of, “I’m financial struggling. I don’t know how to keep a roof over my head.” And once you start peeling that onion back, you really got to the anxiety that was really underlying many of these families. And I want to echo what Dr. Reeves was saying around this concept of a behavioral health tsunami that we know as providers in the field that’s coming. You said it beautifully just a little while ago, that it will take about six months. If you look at trauma and you look at post-traumatic issues, it takes about six months before they’ll happen.

Clara: (37:39)
And so all of us are preparing for an October, November time where individuals are going to need help. And your leadership is so incredibly important because that stigma is what’s going to prevent people from reaching out and getting help, that’s going to turn into bigger issues later on. Death by despair is something we’re also thinking about. So if we can continue to stay ahead of this, let folks know, 211 is available anywhere across our state and our great country. And if you need additional services and supports, we can provide that thanks to teletherapy and other really innovative ways of making those connections happen. So I echo what everyone has said and huge, huge, thanks for the leadership and the regulatory flexibility that you all have provided us during this pandemic.

Casey DeSantis: (38:23)
I’ll give it back to the better half of the governor in a second, but I just wanted to say, you do all the great work, but you’re also a mom.

Clara: (38:29)
I am.

Casey DeSantis: (38:29)
And so, it’s one of the best jobs you can ever have as a human being, but talk about your son. In basketball and you really getting him to that… You’re practicing, right? You think that’s a really important part?

Clara: (38:43)
Absolutely. So I have a 17 year old, Cory, who is a senior at Hillsborough High School. He is a member of the basketball team. We got very lucky because our last game of the season, we made it to the semifinals and lost the Bartow. Thank you. Yeah, lost to Bartow, but we were able to get through that and then everything shut down. And so for Cory, senior year is phenomenal and it’s all these things, but for him it’s basketball. And he was able to start on Monday, being able to practice and be able to participate in that basketball environment for my son, who is a amazing kid and a higher achiever, that has been the linchpin.

Clara: (39:21)
And it was something that when our superintendent has given parents the option, and I was the very first one to check the box, my child for me, needs to be in school five days a week. That is where he is going to be in the best situation and being able to play basketball and really being able to connect with his friends and his peers face to face. It’s a personal decision for every parent, but for this parent in our household, that’s what we feel like is going to be in the best interest of our family.

Casey DeSantis: (39:48)
I’ll close it by saying thank you for the opportunity to be here to do this.

Ron DeSantis: (39:52)
You’ve done a fantastic job and we really appreciate it. Clara, in terms of the folks that are calling in related to COVID, obviously some people are just scared about getting it, but you have a lot of economic anxiety from what’s happened. And then I think from what you said, just the more socially isolated you get, but that’s going to have some effects, can you talk about some of that?

Clara: (40:18)
Of course. We track a variety of different data points. And one of the things we were looking at yesterday at your request, first lady is looking at youth. Defining youth, is that 16, 18 to 25 age range. And what we were seeing is that an incredible increase in those calls. So from March until June, we took about 7,000 calls just from individuals in that age range, looking for assistance and supports. The other thing that was very fascinating is that parents were starting to call in because they were concerned about their teens. Their teens were starting to withdraw from daily activities. They were isolating themselves. They were talking about suicide and parents didn’t know what to do. So they were able to reach out and learn, how do you talk to your child about things that none of us are, right now uncomfortable talking about. And so the more that we continue to have these conversations and make mental health as regular as getting your blood pressure taken, your temperature checked when you go to the doctor also talking about, “Are you suicidal? Are you depressed?” As we make these things part of the daily conversation, that’s when we’re really going to see a true impact in reducing behavioral health issues and ultimately death by suicide.

Ron DeSantis: (41:34)
So the activities, you said how important it is for your son with basketball, the extent that those are not provided, you would expect to see ramifications in terms of mental health among kids.

Clara: (41:45)
And I would even say beyond sports. You look at children that are in the band, participate in theater, any of the performing arts, those are all amazing outlets. And we know for many kids, those outlets are the reasons why they’re actually still coming to school. That for them, we can call it a carrot or whatever we want to, but that is oftentimes really what is allowing them to stay in school and continue to be engaged in school. So again, from my perspective as a licensed clinician, but also as a parent, all of those things are very important. It’s not just the three R’s, it is everything that makes up that academic opportunity for children.

Ron DeSantis: (42:25)
Danny, can you talk a little bit specifically with what we’ve seen in Florida with veterans in terms of the COVID mental health fallout, other types of fallouts, and I know we’ve worked hard on our state nursing homes. I want to thank the US Department of Veterans Affairs for helping us. They sent people to help with the testing early on, which is very important and they’re still… I’ve had conversations periodically with the secretary about, we want to be helpful on things. I think they’re actually going to probably send some medics and some other folks down just if they’re needed, then they’ll be there. So we really appreciate that partnership, but obviously the nursing home it’s been very difficult with the isolation, but then just veterans generally. So what would your thoughts be on that?

Danny Burgess: (43:11)
Absolutely great question Governor. An important topic, so at that FDVA, as you know sir, we run seven veteran nursing homes across the whole state of Florida. I think that the only state run nursing homes. And so we have a nursing home in virtually every region of the state. And so we got to see the impacts of COVID through the longterm care facilities in different communities and how each one may have unique needs versus the other, but one thing was consistent across the board. And number one, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, thank you for handling the difficult calls who lock down our access points to our homes very early on when it came to visitors and contractors and vendors, because that right there was the tipping point, I think for nursing homes across the countries that are experiencing COVID.

Danny Burgess: (43:58)
And as we all know now, when COVID-19 gets into a nursing home, it can be like wildfire. It’s not addressed promptly incorrectly. It’s very hard to mitigate from that point. There are ways, but it takes time and certainly can spread very quickly. So thank you for ensuring that to the best of our ability we got on top of this before even other States across the nation were. It was a measurable difference that that made, and we saw in our own homes. But even then, of course, as I mentioned before, with those correct calls, those difficult calls comes in second, third order effects. And of course, that’s the isolation for residents, veteran residents who were there. Most of them, of course, over the age of 65, used to seeing visitors from family members and friends and others, and even down to of course, social activities. You have to distance within the home on top of that.

Danny Burgess: (44:48)
So there are certainly those effects, but your administration has been excellent. My experience as the executive director of FDVA, one of the most outstanding experiences, even pre COVID-19 was the interoperability of our agencies. And Chad, I know you probably feel the exact same way. Our agencies collaborate because you encouraged us to do that and so, when the Department of Elder Affair stepped up to the plate and started providing the iPads and so that residents can Skype with their family members and the outstanding team at FDVA, even with their limited resources in double the work and triple the work that they were already taking on for protective measures, they found ways to encourage window visits and things like that where the families can schedule that.

Danny Burgess: (45:35)
We found that communication, of course, is critical. Even if the communication is a little scary, meaning maybe there was a COVID-19 patient that popped up in the home, and that was a hospitalized veteran. Then at that point, we found it very important to continue to communicate. And then that was your charge to us was communicate, make sure family members are aware of what’s happening. And so it was our goal every day and their goal to this day to continue to do that. So outside of the nursing homes, I would say that for veterans, served as a veteran, when you transition out of the military, you’ll learn how to put that uniform on, but they really don’t teach you that well, how to take it off and so that transition point can be very difficult.

Danny Burgess: (46:15)
And so, as we’ve talked about in the Governor’s Challenge, you tend to lose that hope in that purpose. And those are two key words, I think that stood out to me more than anything in my time at FDVA, it was hope and purpose. So if we can provide that hope and purpose then veterans want to serve. So if we didn’t find a way to harness that desire to still give back to your community after serving your country and put them to work here, to help as we recover from COVID-19 and connect to other veterans and help them through their time of isolation, there could be some opportunities there as well.

Ron DeSantis: (46:46)
Great. Dr. Reeve, as you look at the mental health impacts of COVID-19, what do you think is that the main driver, is it that people just see in the news, obviously, there’s a lot of fear out there, just fear of that, or is it the fallout from being more isolated, losing jobs, having issues with family members and kids, how would you describe the biggest impacts?

Dr. Reeve: (47:17)
That’s an excellent question, Governor, and I’m sure that Clara has seen some of this as well. One of the things that we were surprised by when COVID first hit was that, we didn’t see an uptick in calls to our crisis line internally and our internal crisis line is just dealing with mental health and behavioral health issues. But I was talking to our local 211 folks and what they reported was that there was the same uptick that Clara described, pretty intense curve up, but that the presenting problem for most people had to do with the second order effects, fear about employment, fear about money, fear about where they were going to get treatment for non COVID illnesses. And it was only after talking to folks for a while that some of the underlying anxiety would bubble up. And what the CEO at the Tallahassee or then the 211, he said, “The thing is, it’s only about 15 minutes into the call that you can start to figure out that, ‘Oh, we really need to refer these guys over to you.'”

Dr. Reeve: (48:21)
So I think that goes to what we’re anticipating, which is the people are… And this is a healthy response, people are taking care of making sure that their families are fed, that they’ve got a roof over their heads. That’s what’s engaging their worry initially, and this isn’t just true for COVID- anxiety, it was true in the aftermath of 9/11, it’s true after every natural disaster that some of the spike in anxiety related illnesses comes six months afterwards, after that initial piece is taken care of. So one of the things we’re looking for is, and I think we have the capacity for, is what’s going to happen in October? What’s going to happen in November? I will tell you as one sort of anecdotal piece of this and the first lady and I were discussing this the other day, typically in children’s and patient units and we run a children’s psychiatric unit.

Dr. Reeve: (49:23)
And typically what happens is that during the summer months and during the holidays, the census falls way down. So it’s really, kids are being hospitalized more during the school year than at other times. One of the things we have seen since the school closures and COVID is we haven’t seen that drop off. There has been a little bit of one, but it’s continuing through the summer. We’re more like five or 10% off peak than the 50% off peak we typically would be. So there’s been a steady stream. What we don’t know is when school reopens, are we going to see the usual upswing in that or not? So it’s had different impacts on different populations. I think to the first lady’s point, one of the things that happens with kids, particularly, but also with adults living in a home is that they’re influenced by the anxiety of other family members. Kids are influenced by the anxiety of parents and kids sometimes act out not because they’re anxious, but because their parents are anxious about all these second order effects. So that’s globally what we’ve seen.

Ron DeSantis: (50:36)
Great. Senator Simpson, you’re going to be taking the helm. Obviously we’re focusing a lot on the here and now, but just in terms of building for the future legislatively, what do you think we could be doing or preparing for?

Senator Simpson: (50:52)
And governor, I want to say again, I really appreciate your leadership through the pandemic, even prior to the pandemic, but I think when you look at telehealth opportunities, I think that needs to be potentially greatly expanded. We’ve seen a lot of efficiencies that is brought through the healthcare system and not only the efficiencies from a financial perspective, but actually the occurrences when people actually show up because they can do it through a telehealth type portal. I think if we can work on those issues and continue to bring permanency to children, all age children, but especially young children, if you can bring permanency into their lives, you’re really going to drive down a lot of the negative effects of society, including the pandemic, but even without a pandemic, there’s a lot of negative effect on children that are being moved from foster home to foster home.

Senator Simpson: (51:43)
And so I’m hoping that we will be able to pick that up and do some good work there and I’m looking forward to hopefully coming into next year and maybe we have a vaccine. And so my big hope is obviously we’ll have better therapeutic medicines three or four months from now. There’s some big promise on a vaccine that was announced yesterday. And there’s many others going to be announced in the next two or three weeks. And so hopefully we’ll get back to, what we’re going to call the new normal, but it’ll be a whole lot like the old normal, but we’ll be more efficient at it. The technology systems, the gains in technology and business through Zooms or Skypes or what have you is going to be permanent. I think the state of Florida can learn a lot about that and we get back to work and make sure we’re taking care of our children in our state.

Ron DeSantis: (52:33)
Great. Well, Clara, thanks for hosting us. We really appreciate, I want to thank everyone for taking the time. We obviously have a fight with the virus and its impacts on individuals who were infected. And unfortunately, for folks in younger demographics, the clinical consequences have been relatively minor. Obviously our senior citizens, our longterm care, bare the brunt of the worst effects of this. It’s important that fight is joined across the state. We’re going to continue to do that.

Ron DeSantis: (53:08)
We also though understand that there are a lot of people in the state of Florida, never contracted the virus, maybe don’t even know anybody who has. And so maybe you’ve had no personal impact at all in terms of the actual illness, but who have been profoundly impacted with the changes that have occurred in society. You’re worried about a paycheck. You’re worried about kids. You’re worried about family members. There’s a lot of anxiety out there. And I think that folks hear that, I understand that, and that is something that we’re going to continue to put a lot of attention on as well. Now we need folks to be able to be on their feet. We need people to be able to be productive. We need our kids to be able to have opportunities to grow and thrive. All of those are very important and the effects that we’ve seen over the last many months in dealing-

Ron DeSantis: (54:03)
The effects that we’ve seen over the last many months in dealing with the pandemic have been significant. And yes, they are more indirect, but they’re very real nonetheless and they’re problems that deserve our attention and we’re here to do that. And the mental health is just one part of it, but it is a big part of it. And it is a part of it that is likely to persist in the months and months to come. So thanks everyone for being here.

Ron DeSantis: (54:27)
With that, yes ma’am?

Casey DeSantis: (54:30)
[inaudible 00:54:30] WFLA. Thank you so much for being here, Governor. Governor, I get that there’s a lot of data. The Department Of Health just realized that dozens of labs are not reporting negatives. One, specifically who is in charge of checking the data? And two, if something so simple is overlooked, how can we trust the rest of the numbers?

Ron DeSantis: (54:49)
So here’s the thing. When people are doing the tests, the labs report it into a system. Okay. So you may run 1000 tests and you may report 100 positives. If you have five extra positives that you don’t put in there, I mean, that’s really on the lab to comply with the law. So the positives they’re used to doing, what we’ve seen because of some of the backlogs is sometimes they want to get the positives out because obviously that’s important. And then the negatives get backlogged. Now sometimes they’ll do a big negative dump, and sometimes as we’ve seen on some of these, you may not see. But it’s not the Department Of Health per se. It is the labs that are inputting this. And some of those labs on there have inputted under multiple different entries.

Ron DeSantis: (55:32)
And so obviously I want every single thing reported perfectly by the labs. But as we’ve seen in this process, we have a system and the state’s only doing … I mean, we do some testing. The hospitals do a lot of testing. There’s a lot of testing going on. That stuff gets sent, a lot of it’s to commercial labs. Our state labs can do stuff, but I mean, they only do a limited bandwidth. We’re trying to expand it.

Ron DeSantis: (55:54)
So you do that and you’d like to get the results back timely. We’ve had, announced yesterday, we’re having to sever ties with one of the labs because the patients weren’t getting the results back in a timely fashion. So we’re working with one that can. So that’s what you’re trying to do. But I would say anything that’s being reported from the labs, yeah, there may be negatives backlogged. We’ve seen that before. I mean, we had an in the second or third week of May I remember, we got like 60,000 negatives dumped and those negatives span the previous six weeks that had been done with some of the major commercial labs. But that is not the state running those labs. Those are those labs doing it and then either complying with the law or not complying with the order.

Casey DeSantis: (56:38)
Who is checking the state’s report? These are the numbers that are not accurate. It’s your report.

Ron DeSantis: (56:45)
What do you mean? Which numbers aren’t accurate?

Casey DeSantis: (56:51)
So everything that I’ve highlighted in yellow, these are labs that are-

Ron DeSantis: (56:52)
All right. Well, let’s just [crosstalk 00:56:52] … I get what you’re saying, but let’s just be clear. You shouldn’t put an impression in the public that somehow if people are tested positive, hospitalization, fatality, that somehow that’s [inaudible 00:57:03]. What you’re talking about is labs reporting positives and then not reporting all the negatives. Okay? And the negatives are important and that is something, but it’s not throwing off the general disease prevalence or anythings else that we’re talking about. So obviously I want all the negatives there. That’s better to have more negatives. And so I certainly would want to do that, but I also know that there’s just a lot of labs throwing in a lot of information into the system. It’s their responsibility to do it. They are required under our binding orders. And I think that they should be doing it. Yes, ma’am?

Speaker 1: (57:41)
[inaudible 00:57:41] CBS affiliate in Tampa Bay. Looking at today’s data, Governor, the state percent positive hasn’t seen a daily rate under 12% in two weeks and showing our rate of testing isn’t keeping up with the rate of infection. Are you considering rolling back more counties to phase one, like Hillsborough County, which the fourth highest number of cases right now in the state?

Ron DeSantis: (58:01)
Well, so I don’t think that that’s actually true. I mean, when you look at the percent positive, obviously if you’re retesting, those are not ones that really should be. So if you look, 7/9 was 12.7, then 12.6, 11.2, 11.5. We did have 15.

Speaker 1: (58:12)
On the 13th, we had more than 18% that day-

Ron DeSantis: (58:19)
15%. Yeah. It was 15%. Yeah. You’re counting the retests. You’re counting the retests, which is fine, but-

Speaker 1: (58:26)
[crosstalk 00:58:26] we aren’t testing as fast as the infection is spreading.

Ron DeSantis: (58:28)
No, I think what you’re seeing is I think you’re seeing two weeks ago, we were pretty much at that 15%, 16% positivity. And again, you look at the report, look at the last bar on that report. That doesn’t include retest if you’re testing multiple times. Because that obviously doesn’t impact disease prevalence. If you’re positive and you’re testing to get out of quarantine and you pop positive three more times, well, that’s not a good barometer of disease prevalence. So these are the ones to try to do that.

Ron DeSantis: (58:56)
So we were in the 15 all the way up to 18, and then what we’ve seen in the last four or five days has been more in the 11 to 13. We did have one day at 15. So I think at a minimum, that’s a stabilization. We obviously would like to see, I think if you take out Miami-Dade and Broward, you do see a gap for the rest of the state. Miami-Dade has been about 20% have been positive very consistently. It’s obviously an issue. I was down there meeting with all the local officials. We want to work with them as best we can, but there has been a stabilization on the percent positive. It is a little bit lower this week than it was last week.

Ron DeSantis: (59:37)
Obviously, we had all of May and the beginning of June, we were under 5%. That’s where we want to be. I think we’ll get there, but it’s going to take more work going forward. I would also say that the percent positives is important. If you look, I mean, we had 116,000 test results today. So that’s an incredible amount of test results. That’s more than the country was doing if you go back into the middle of March on a daily basis. And we’re testing at a clip that nobody thought we would ever be testing at. And so it’s just important to know.

Ron DeSantis: (01:00:15)
And I think consequently, you have more disease prevalence obviously than you did at the beginning of June because we see that in the syndromatic indicators. But at the same time, we are capturing a higher percentage of the infections. You go back in March, you had to be symptomatic and usually a certain age to get a test. So there were way more people who were actually infected who never even got tested. Now we have mass community-based testing regardless of symptoms. So I do think that we are capturing a larger share of the people who are actually infected. There’s still more above and beyond that. But I don’t think it was like at the beginning of April, where for every one case there were probably 10, 15 or 20 times as number of infections.

Ron DeSantis: (01:00:57)
And then if you also look at syndromatic indicators, the ED visits, visits to the ED for COVID-like illness. We’ve seen that decline over the past week and in pretty considerable decline. So that’s a good sign as well. So we’re working with all the localities, but I do think you’ve seen stabilization in the Tampa Bay area in terms of their percent positive. Yes, sir?

Speaker 2: (01:01:23)
[inaudible 01:01:23] Tampa Bay Times. More and more, the science is suggesting that the people who are thought to be asymptomatic have longterm health effects that we’re just only starting to understand. And the Palm Beach Health Department said that they’re really concerned that there might be these issues in children that we don’t understand and today came out and-

Ron DeSantis: (01:01:42)
Well, which science are you referencing?

Speaker 2: (01:01:46)
That there’s longterm lung damage-

Ron DeSantis: (01:01:46)
I know, but which science? Has there been a study done on that?

Speaker 2: (01:01:48)
There’s been multiple reports that have come out on-

Ron DeSantis: (01:01:51)
Well, report, but what? Has there been a study, a peer reviewed study on that yet?

Speaker 2: (01:01:57)
I mean, this is just what we’re hearing from medical experts.

Ron DeSantis: (01:01:57)
Okay. Well, I mean, we hear a lot of things, but is there … No, but you’re putting something out that there’s going to be longterm. And I obviously can’t say either way, because I don’t think we have enough information, but is there a scientific study or is it just some people surmising that it may be? I’m just trying to get the basis of the question.

Speaker 2: (01:02:14)
It’s something that we’re hearing more and more from public health experts. I don’t have a specific study to name, but I’m curious if that is something you’re hearing from your public health experts.

Ron DeSantis: (01:02:24)
Well, so basically I think the answer is you can’t rule anything out, but also nothing’s been substantiated in that regard. So it’d be irresponsible for me to say, “There’ll never be any longterm,” because we just don’t know. But I think it’s also problematic to say in 20 years, there’s going to be all these problems when we just don’t know that. And so I think that’s something that remains to be seen. This is obviously not the same as other families of coronaviruses. influenza can have some impact as well. So I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, but I don’t think that that’s been substantiate. So I just think that the public should be understanding where this is right now in terms of this and really focus on actual facts as they come in.

Speaker 2: (01:03:14)
Well, if I can follow up and ask this then. The unknowns about the virus, how do they factor into your longterm strategy for controlling and continuing this when there is so much that we still don’t know about it?

Ron DeSantis: (01:03:27)
Well, we know a lot more, I think, than we did a few months ago. I mean, I think we have a better sense of the transmissibility. I think we have a better sense of the groups that are the most at risk. I think we know some of the environments where you’ve tended to see outbreaks. And so as that comes in, you obviously put that into practice. I mean, I think that initially there was a lot of concern about touching things. And I’m not saying you don’t keep things clean, but I think if you look at the transmission, I mean, it’s the respiratory droplets in close contact that is doing the lion’s share of these infections. And so we kind of understand that now. We understand the enclosed environments. We understand all these things. So obviously as new things come down the pike, you’ve got to consider that and do things accordingly. Yes, ma’am?

Casey DeSantis: (01:04:23)
A question about remdesivir. We’re hearing all of these shortages, these hospitals across the state. Sarasota Memorial hospital just told me on Monday they’re not getting their next shipment until July 28th. BayCare is saying the same thing. Their hospitals are seeing these shortages. And Marco Rubio just tweeted that there is a bad disconnect three hours ago, he said, between what the federal government thinks we need and what we actually need here in the states of Florida.

Ron DeSantis: (01:04:49)
So we heard that from them and I spoke with the White House, the vice president. And so the recent shipments were expedited. Those were not actually supposed to be there I think until the end of this week. So we’re able to do that. And then I spoke with the vice president last night about the need to continue the supply. So he understands it and he understands. And basically I think his thought was, “Look, we’re looking at Southern California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida as kind of the priorities on this.” And so I do anticipate that we’ll be able to get it. We obviously said we want to get it as soon as possible.

Ron DeSantis: (01:05:26)
Their advice I think is we did have some treatments of it where you were going beyond the five days, which obviously uses up more vials. And I’m not saying Sarasota was doing that, but basically I think the White House’s view is scientifically we think the five day regimen can be beneficial. They don’t have much evidence that going beyond that tends to be beneficial. So that could be one way too to just make sure that the regiment’s there for what it works. But when you go beyond that, they didn’t seem to think that it was something that had been terribly effective. But we are working on that. That was the one number one thing I talked to the vice president about last night. They understand.

Ron DeSantis: (01:06:10)
So I wouldn’t say that there’s a disconnect in terms of them understanding that this is something that a lot of physicians are prescribing now. We do have some other things that have been done that have gotten pretty good reviews, like convalescent plasma. But I think as this has come online, it’s kind of defaulted to the standard of care. So as people come in, I think they’re tending to get prescribed the remdesivir. So we obviously want to help with that, and we want to try to get it.

Ron DeSantis: (01:06:36)
Now, it had been for the initial parts with remdesivir where they would send it to the state health department. So initially, the state of Florida was sending it out. But then what happened in the more recent shipment, and this is how HHS is doing it going forward, they are having the stuff go straight to the hospitals. And so we, the state, I’m there now as an advocate to try to get this thing, this stuff shipped to our hospitals, but it’s not going to be the state that’s distributing for HHS practice. So they’re going to be doing it, and we want to get it as soon as possible. I believe giving the doctors all the tools that are available is really what we need to do. And the good thing about what’s happened over the last month or two across our country in terms of the persistence of this and obviously an increase in Florida is that there are better options for patients now than there were in March.

Ron DeSantis: (01:07:35)
We’re not out of the woods. I mean, obviously there’s more that needs to be done in developing different types of additional treatments. But you actually have now an arsenal of things that they can do that I think have been proven to reduce mortality and morbidity. And that’s a good thing. And I really applaud the folks throughout the state of Florida for all that they’ve been doing. So thanks everybody.

Speaker 1: (01:07:59)
Can we get one question about schools, Governor? How do you plan to fund schools with all the safety measures [inaudible 00:01:08:07]. Can we get one more questions about schools, Governor? Governor? [Crosstalk 01:08:08].

Casey DeSantis: (01:08:10)
Yeah. So here, I’ll show it to you. You can look it up yourself. Does your state report? One question only. Every single time.

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