Jun 25, 2020
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis June 25 COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on Thursday, June 25. DeSantis said there are no plans to move to next phase of reopening Florida due to the spike in COVID cases. Read the whole news briefing speech here.
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Scott Morreale: (00:01)
Good afternoon, everyone. Governor DeSantis, Commissioner [Corker 00:00:07], distinguished guests, welcome to Crysto Rey Tampa Salesian High School. My name is Scott Morreale. I am the president of Crysto Rey Tampa.
Scott Morreale: (00:19)
Our high school, which was established just four short years ago, was created with the mission to prepare students from underserved communities by providing them the opportunity to participate in a rigorous academic environment, preparing them for the dream of one day attending college. This year marks the first graduating class in our school’s history. On August 8th, I will confer diplomas to students who just four short years ago did not think they would have the opportunity to compete in such a challenging program, let alone attend a prestigious four-year university, might I add 98% of these students are going to college.
Scott Morreale: (01:03)
Many of these young men and women will be first-generation members of their family to go to college. Our story here at Crysto Rey Tampa is truly one of the American dream, providing the opportunities that wouldn’t be possible if it were not for the leadership of our governor and the representatives of the great state of Florida. Crysto Rey is so fortunate to serve our students under the Florida scholarship programs. We couldn’t be prouder to host Governor DeSantis at our school today to mark this special occasion. The governor understands that we are moving toward a new definition of public education.
Scott Morreale: (01:40)
30 years ago in Florida, public education meant one thing, your zoned school district assigned was determined by your zip code. Today, over 40% of the students in Florida, funded by our taxpayers, do not have to attend zoned schools. They attend district-run magnets, charter schools, take virtual classes and participate in college classes under dual enrollment. And yes, students are also fortunate to receive taxpayer funding to attend private faith-based schools like Crysto Rey Tampa. No one type of school is better than the other, but one school may be a better fit for an individual student. Crysto Rey Tampa Salesian High School, as is stated in our mission, was created to strengthen the competence, confidence and aspiration of our students from economically-disadvantaged families, empowering them to build fulfilling lives that advanced the common good of all people. Together, we are truly building tomorrow’s leaders.
Scott Morreale: (02:50)
Governor DeSantis has been a strong supporter of educational choice even before he became governor. But he couldn’t have been any stronger in his conviction since he took office. In his first year as governor, he listened to low-income parents on the waiting list for tax credit scholarship program and pushed for the creation of the family empowerment scholarship. This scholarship is not dependent on tax-credited donations from companies. The funding from the scholarships comes from the state budget. Therefore, the funding is not dependent on the profit of donors.
Scott Morreale: (03:24)
The FES had a very successful first year, with every one of the 17,000 scholarships being utilized. With his leadership, the governor came right back and made the expansion of the program a priority again this year. The bill that the governor worked with the legislature to pass has allowed the program to grow to over 28,000 students per year. Florida scholarship programs that allow parents to choose private schools are just one of the options that need to be on the table for low-income families. The governor knows that all the options, including district schools, need to be supported.
Scott Morreale: (04:03)
Governor DeSantis, on behalf of all students on all of Florida scholarship programs and on behalf of all of Florida students, no matter where they choose to attend, we say, thank you. Thank you for leading these efforts and providing us a new definition of public education as we continue to work hard, developing tomorrow’s leaders. We’re grateful to you for your vision and your leadership. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the governor of the great state of Florida, Ron DeSantis.
Ron DeSantis: (04:43)
Well, thanks so much, Scott. Thanks for having us here today. It’s great to be here. Congratulations on the success that you’ve had. I know your valedictorians going to Rice, which is a great achievement, but I just ask maybe a lecture valedictorian stay in the state of Florida. We’ve got some great universities here as well. But I know that they have a lot of opportunities and that’s a good thing.
Ron DeSantis: (05:04)
I want to thank some of the folks who are here with us. I think we’ve got a number of legislators here. Raise your hand if you’re a legis- … Got [Wengay 00:05:13], got Jamie Grant, I got Susan Valdes, I got Senator Stargell. Is Tom Lee here? Tom Lee. Yeah, there he goes again. Yeah, so thank you, guys, for coming. We really appreciate it.
Ron DeSantis: (05:27)
We worked really hard this year to be able to deliver for students and families when it comes to education in the state of Florida. It was a tough fight on a lot of this stuff. Yesterday, we were able to sign the bill to increase Florida as average minimum teacher salary in the state of Florida to take us from the bottom 25 States into the top five, that was a really important thing, one of the biggest initiatives that’s ever been able to be in a generation here in the state of Florida. That will, one, I think, reward teachers who are doing a good job. It’ll be good for students. It’ll be good for families. It’ll also help us continue to recruit people into the profession as we go forward, so that was a really, really big victory. The budget is obviously going to be a little bit more difficult than we anticipated, but I felt that we had to deliver on that core promise, and so that’s going to be in the budget. It’s good to go, and people will be able to benefit from that very, very soon.
Ron DeSantis: (06:29)
We also were mindful of a lot of our low-income families who needed additional help to be able to get their kids in the school that best fits that child’s needs. We had success doing the family-empowerment scholarship during my first year as governor because we had 15 to 20,000 kids sitting on a wait list for Florida’s tax credit scholarship program. We believe that we wanted those kids off the wait list. We wanted to be able to empower parents, many of them are low-income parents, many of them are single mothers, working mothers, to have a meaningful choice and to get their child in the best environment. We did the family-empowerment scholarship, which effectively cleared the wait list. But what we found was there was a lot of support, there was a lot of interest in utilizing that. We knew that we needed to make sure that we weren’t going to let wait lists build up again in the future.
Ron DeSantis: (07:23)
This particular bill that I’ll sign into law today expands, it builds off a lot of the success we’ve had. We’re going to hear from [Shakira 00:07:33] Parks, who’s got four kids on scholarship, about how meaningful this is to mothers, families, kids. This will mean more opportunity. If you look at a lot of the stuff that’s going on in our country, a lot of different controversies, I think if we in the state of Florida can say we’re doing everything we can to make sure that any child, regardless of income, regardless of family status, regardless of race or ethnicity, has tools to be able to make the most of their God-given talent, if we succeed in doing that, then we’re going to be doing probably as much than anything else that we can do.
Ron DeSantis: (08:14)
I’m excited to be here for this. We’re going to hear from a couple of folks before I sign the bill. One of the guys who was really fighting hard for this in the Florida Senate, who has a very strong passion for education coming from Miami, where Miami-Dade County, for those of you who may not know, I think, and John Curley can correct me, but 70% of students in Miami-Dade attend a school other than what they were zoned for. The traditional model, your zoned here, you go there. It’s not all tax-credit scholarships or family empowerment. It’s that. It’s charter school. It’s school choice within the school district. I think it’s the best performing larger school district in America as a result of a lot of those things. He understands this. He’s worked very hard. He helped deliver a big victory. Senator, why don’t you come up here and say a few words.
John Curley: (09:14)
Thank you, Governor. I just want to, first of all, thank you because from the very beginning, when you took office, you became the education governor and you made it a priority. Completely shows this week, where you yesterday, you signed a huge bill and a win for teachers in our state, making us in the top five with teacher salaries. Today, you’re here to sign a bill that is going to continue to provide opportunities for all students and all families in our state. It just shows the balance approach and the fact that you want our families to have a choice. We could’ve stopped after last year, but you came and said, “Look, we got rid of that first waiting, but the demand is there and we don’t want to leave any families out.” The governor led on this and it really made it easier for us to work through the legislative process.
John Curley: (09:59)
I also want to thank all of my colleagues. I want to thank Senator Ga-
John Curley: (10:03)
I also want to thank all of my colleagues. I want to thank Senator Galvano, President [inaudible 00:10:06] Simpson, and Chair Bradley who are not here, who were also instrumental. And of course, my partner in education in the Senate, Senator Kelli Stargel who’s always there, and we do it in tandem. This is teamwork, and thanks to your push, and the legislative process we were able to get this victory, and we’re not going to stop, Governor.
John Curley: (10:24)
We’re going to continue to push forward until every family has the opportunity and every student, regardless of zip code, has a chance to choose the school that’s best for them. So again, thank you. And this is a big day for the students and families, so congratulations. Thank you very much, Governor.
Ron DeSantis: (10:38)
All right. We’ve got a graduating senior here, [Aiden Montero 00:00:49] He’s going to come up and say a few words.
Aiden Montero: (11:02)
Good afternoon, Governor DeSantis. Sorry, excuse me. Good afternoon, Governor DeSantis, distinguished guests, and friends of Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School. I’m Aiden Montero, a recent graduate, and first graduating class of Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School, the class of 2020. As a recipient of the Florida Test Credit Scholarship, I was able attend Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School. While at Cristo Rey, I had the opportunity to learn from best teachers, made amazing friends, and was introduced to the corporate world, which is not something typical for a high school student.
Aiden Montero: (11:39)
And for all this, I’m thankful. Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School is more than a high school. Each student also participates in a corporate work study program where we are introduced to professional work experiences while we are taking college preparatory academic course load. The corporate work study program was my favorite part of high school. I met many professionals who taught me, and guided me on my path towards college. During my freshman year and sophomore year, I worked at a company called LabelValue, and my junior year I worked at Amuni Financial, and as a senior, I worked at CBRE. I am appreciative of all these businesses, and corporate work-study supervisors who believe in me, and instilled me in my confidence to inspire my dreams.
Aiden Montero: (12:25)
I’m very excited to share that I will attend Florida Institute of Technology in the fall, and plan to study software engineering. Thank you, Governor DeSantis and Step Up For Students for the opportunity to participate in the Florida Tax Credit scholarship program that allowed me to obtain a private school education at Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School. Because of your support and efforts, I’m the first person in my family to go to college, and I look forward to the day that I do the same for a student. Thank you.
Ron DeSantis: (12:57)
Congratulations. That’s wonderful, and Florida Institute of Technology over on the space coast. You go there, you do well in those key areas. There’s going to be a lot of jobs there because that’s really taken off with all the aerospace, and it’s really exciting. It’s also my pleasure to be able to bring up… You know, we talk about this bill. Are you going to sign this, that? And it’s like, okay, it’s not about me signing a bill, legislature passing. That’s sometimes just theater.
Ron DeSantis: (13:27)
What effect do these things actually have on people’s lives? And I think that [Shakira Parks 00:00:13:33] will be able to talk about what these scholarships mean to her family. She’s got four kids, and I think, really show how meaningful it is. So why don’t you come on up?
Shakira Parks: (13:56)
Hello. Again, my name is Shakira Parks. I have four children that received the Florida Tax Credit scholarship. I have Kamija, who’s in the ninth grade. She attends Northside. We reside in St. Petersburg. I have to Tanijah and DeQuan who attend Academy Prep of St. Petersburg, and I have [Tay’Jon 00:14:18] who attends Mount Zion. This scholarship has been amazing to me. The experience I’ve had in public school, some are good, and I always say that. Some public schools are amazing, and then there’s some that are just not, and because I didn’t have the choice to choose that with public school, the good schools, we’re on a waiting list. We’re number seven for two years. So it was just a lot to be able to receive this scholarship. It’s amazing. I can’t say it enough. So today I just wanted to say thank you.
Shakira Parks: (14:59)
I am a full-time student, and I work part time as a substitute in Pinellas County schools. I want to say thank you so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring enough. Thank you for making me and my family count. Thank you for choice. Thank you for not only thinking of being involved, but actually being involved. Thank you, Governor DeSantis for living our dream with us in the wake of it all. Thank you Commissioner Corcoran, Chair Diaz, and everyone else who supported this bill. You all have helped me break the educational gap that has tried to continue farming on my bloodline. Thank you for creating our new norm. Thank you for expanding scholarship opportunities for family in Florida. The visions are possible when there are supportive believers. Thank you for believing
Ron DeSantis: (15:54)
Well, thank you so much. We really appreciate you coming, and good best of luck to all your kids as they continue with their education. Commissioner Richard Corcoran has been leading a fight for our teacher pay initiative, which is very important. And then obviously helping expand educational choice for low income families. So, Richard, you want to come up?
Richard Corcoran: (16:29)
Thank you, Governor. You know, you guys, it was probably September, October, last year, where the governor laid out for two years, he laid out just an amazing, bold vision for education. And then this second year, he laid out two bold visions, and to be able to come, yesterday in Miami, and today in Tampa, and you’re nine, 10 months later, and you’re actually signing bills that have a profound impact in people’s lives and teachers’ lives. We go from 26 to the top five in teacher pay yesterday, and today we are expanding a choice program that all of the national tests, all of the national surveys, Northwestern just came out. Anytime you have robust choice, every single school gets better. All kinds of schools, every type of school gets better. And what we had in his first term, the first FTS scholarship that he passed and authored had 18,000 slots. All 18,000 slots were immediately filled.
Richard Corcoran: (17:26)
It is the largest single choice program in the history of America that grew that much, that fast in the history of our country. And that’s an amazing thing. So he came back this year, and the Governor, with the great help of our legislature passed another expansion of that scholarship, as you heard. Now it’s going to go up to a 29,000 kids.
Richard Corcoran: (17:46)
Education is everything. Education goes to who we are as human beings. It’s what gives us hope, it’s what gives us dignity. And every single person deserves that. And what’s happening today is ensuring that all children in the state of Florida, thanks to the great work of our Governor, are going to be afforded a world class education. But to be traveling with you, to work for you, Governor, for two straight days, and to see what we did for children and education yesterday with the largest single teacher compensation package in the history of our state, and now to the largest expansion of a choice program in our country is just a wonderful thing. You’re the education governor, and we can’t thank you for all. You’re doing. Thank you very much.
Ron DeSantis: (18:30)
Well, thanks commissioner. And I’m going to go over here in a minute and sign the bill, but I would also just like to say, I think it’s good that if you look yesterday, when we did the teacher pay initiative, we had a number of our bipartisan coalition, I know representative Bush was there, [inaudible 00:18:48] today. We got Wengay Newton, Susan Valdes. Education really should be bipartisan. I mean, it’s all about opportunity, and it’s really good that we’ve been able to get a lot of bipartisan support for some really good initiatives, and we have some others coming down the pipe once I get done signing all these bills over the next few days. But as of right now, we’ll get one in the books. Here we go.
Ron DeSantis: (20:00)
Ron DeSantis: (20:00)
All right, there you go. All right. Let her rip.
Speaker 1: (20:35)
Ron DeSantis: (20:46)
We’re not forcing them to do it. I mean, if that’s the choice that they’re making, they’re making it. I think that the folks following the guidelines, people have been able to do it in ways that are low risk. And that’s been pretty much the case since the beginning of May. And remember, we did the opening at the beginning of May, had very steady, manageable cases. We’ve obviously seen that turn lately, but we had a very quiet May. And I think everyone has to acknowledge that.
Speaker 1: (21:13)
Ron DeSantis: (21:21)
Well, we’re are where we are. I mean, I didn’t say we’re going to go on to the next phase. We’ve done a step by step approach and it was an approach that’s been reflective of the unique situation of each area. So for example, South Florida, they’ve been on a different schedule. They’ve been on a much slower schedule. They also are having the biggest outbreaks still, even with that slower schedule. So that’s the way it’s been done. We never anticipated, necessarily, doing anything different in terms of the next phase at this point anyways. So we are where we are. Obviously, South Florida is where they are. I think the main thing is, is just for folks to … Look, in May, if you remember, end of April, May, all the way through, coronavirus was relatively quiet in Florida. You had manageable cases, our positivity rate was 4% or 5% consistently. And we had nursing home outbreaks, we had issues we were dealing with. Obviously, we were testing all the nursing homes, very important. But then you got into kind of Memorial Day, you had a lot of protests for two weeks, and it kind of fell off the front pages. And I think that folks thought, “Hey, let’s move on to the next thing.” And I think we know that it’s not something that just goes away, it’s something that you got to understand, you got to live with. And I’m confident that people, if you follow guidelines, if you follow the instructions from the local and the state and the federal officials, you can do things in a low risk way. But I do think that folks just, look, it’s a natural human thing. You’re having more contact, you’re doing things. And so we’ve seen.
Ron DeSantis: (22:59)
And we’ve seen most of this case growth in those under 40 category. And look, they are less at risk. There’s no doubt about it. They obviously want to be out there and be more social. You can do little things that will make a difference. I mean, we have everyone wearing a mask because they’re not six feet. And so that’s an appropriate thing to do. Obviously, avoiding really close quarters, particularly indoor with poor ventilation, that is going to be a situation where you’re going to have more spread. Avoid big crowds. I know we have seen some big crowds over the last few weeks. But the more you can minimize that, the better. And outdoors in Florida is better than the air conditioning in terms of the virus. There’s just no doubt about it. The spread outdoors is minimal. If you’re cooped up inside, you just tend to have more spread. The areas where we’ve probably had the most outbreaks have been linked to the home, where you have multi-generational families living. I know Manny’s area down in Dade has seen that. And so that’s just something that people should understand. That close, consistent contact.
Ron DeSantis: (24:06)
Now that you have some of the younger folks who are testing positive at higher rates, it’s just important for folks in the upper age groups, whether you’re a parent or a grandparent, to just understand that that’s out there, continue to take the proper steps and maintain the appropriate social distance. But if you look, the seniors here in Florida have done a tremendous job. I mean, we said from the beginning of March, “Limit as much contact as you can, avoid crowds.” They have done that and then some. And obviously we need to keep doing that as we deal with some of the proliferation of these infections, but particularly with those younger cohorts.
Ron DeSantis: (24:43)
And keep in mind, you are seeing infection, the positivity rate grow, which obviously, we want to turn that in the other direction. Some of what you’re seeing, though, is the fact that this is mass testing, regardless of symptoms. And the CDC even came out today and said they think there’s at least 10 times as many people who have been infected than there are actual cases in this country. And I think that’s consistent with pretty much every seroprevalence study that’s been done. This is by and large, particularly for people under 60, an asymptomatic illness. Now obviously, some people under 60 could have problems, but most of the people who are testing positive now are not developing symptoms and are not even having present symptoms when they test. That was different from what we were doing in March and April, where you absolutely had to have symptoms. There just weren’t enough tests to be able to do. If you had symptoms, and usually you had to be a certain age, you got the test. Now we’re more of a mass testing.
Ron DeSantis: (25:38)
That is a good thing because every asymptomatic case you identify, if they follow the precautions and isolate, then that can really lower the spread. Because if they’re asymptomatic and didn’t get a test, well, then they may go around, they may not think that they had it or are doing it and they could spread it to other people. So identifying a lot of asymptomatic folks can help us mitigate the spread of these areas. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 2: (25:59)
Ron DeSantis: (26:06)
Yeah. So yeah, it’s a good point. So we’re going to do … Okay.
Speaker 2: (26:10)
Ron DeSantis: (26:22)
Yeah. No, we are going to do more. So I spoke with the Head of BayCare, they’re going to do a site at Tropicana field. So we’re going to support. If they need swabs, if they need support, we’re going to do that. And then also some of our other drive-through sites, we’ve expanded the lanes so that people are able to get through. I mean, what happened was I was going around in mid, late March begging people to get tested because we didn’t have a lot of traffic going through these sites. And now, obviously, because it’s more prevalent in the news in particular, people want to, which is a good thing. So we are expanding capacity at our existing sites. We will support the Pinellas County tests. And then if they need to do more at Raymond James, we’re happy to do that.
Ron DeSantis: (27:05)
We’re also, for every county, in fact, they drop, the tests drop tomorrow, every staff member at a long term care facility is going to need to be tested every two weeks. We’re actually providing all of those tests for all those people. That’ll take a little bit of pressure off some of these drive-through sites. So we want to do that. We’re going to provide support for the locals. Now of course, keep in mind also, all these big counties, Hillsborough, Pinellas, all that, they got huge dollars for the CARES Act. So they also have the ability to do some stuff. And we obviously would expect that they would be stepping up as well. But yes, we want to be helpful on that. And we do want people to be able to get tested more quickly.
Speaker 3: (27:50)
Ron DeSantis: (28:09)
Well, obviously, we want this to end as soon as possible. If I honestly thought it would end tomorrow, I would do cartwheels. And I would tell people that. But I said from the beginning, even as we got through that first peak, we moved into the end of April and May, that the virus doesn’t just disappear. Even when it’s down, sense to the extent people thought maybe it comes back in the fall, there’s still prevalence, I think, throughout the whole year. And that’s just the reality. So we’re going to have to live with that.
Ron DeSantis: (28:41)
Now, I would say, if you look at the COVID related fatalities per capita, we’ve done much better than anyone predicted. And we have probably the most vulnerable population. Now, we still got a lot of work to do obviously. Part of that is because of the focus on the long term care facilities. Nationwide, it’s thought that more than 50% of COVID related fatalities have been residents of long term care facilities. And if you look in Florida, in that under 55 age group, our case fatality rate is extremely low. And if you believe in the seroprevalence, which I do, probably 10 times as many people in that age group have actually been infected. And so the infection fatality rate is even lower. So just understand there’s a major age difference, the comorbidities have a have an impact on that.
Ron DeSantis: (29:33)
And so the fatalities are really going to be a function of how good a job we can do protecting those vulnerable. We’re putting forth huge resources on the testing of the staff. We’ve already either tested or at least offered a test to every resident of a long term care facility. We’ve tested staff and that’s hundreds of thousands, I think. Probably 300 some thousand tests were done with that. So we’ve put an enormous amount of effort into protecting the most-
Ron DeSantis: (30:03)
… With that. So we’ve put an enormous amount of effort into protecting the most vulnerable and we’re going to continue to do that. But if you can tell me that we will not have a single nursing home outbreak going forward, then I can tell you there will be fewer fatalities. If you tell me all of a sudden there’s going to be 10 nursing home outbreaks, then that will lead unfortunately to more mortality. So understand where the risk of mortality is most acute and focusing a lot of attention there, I think, is the best way to try to save lives. Yes, sir.
Speaker 4: (30:30)
Hispanic immigrant community are upset about accusing them of spreading COVID-19. What did [inaudible 00:30:36]?
Ron DeSantis: (30:31)
To do what with COVID-19?
Speaker 4: (30:31)
Ron DeSantis: (30:31)
What about them?
Speaker 4: (30:31)
Are upset about [inaudible 00:30:42]. What do you say about that?
Ron DeSantis: (30:32)
Yeah, I don’t know what they said. I mean, when we have different outbreaks going around the state, describing where we’re seeing that is not anything to, I mean, that’s just what we do. And so I don’t know why they would be upset. We do have outbreaks in farm community. That’s just the reality. If you look at Immokalee in Collier County, if you look at some of the places in Palm Beach County, if you look at places in Martin County, we have seen that and it’s not blaming them for the outbreak. That’s just the reality that there are outbreaks.
Ron DeSantis: (31:14)
I mean, there are some of those areas where they’ve tested a hundred farm workers and they’ve had 80 or 90 test positive. None of them have symptoms or maybe only one of them will have symptoms, so the disease burden is low on the hospital system. But when you see positive tests and people say where are the positive tests coming from, this is more a couple of weeks ago where that was really kind of popping. I think that’s still going on. But I think what we’ve seen in the last week and a half, two weeks is more community transmission in that 18 to 40-year-old range across our major metro area.
Ron DeSantis: (31:45)
So there’s a combination of all these different things and that’s just the reality of the situation. Let me do one more. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 5: (31:53)
Ron DeSantis: (32:01)
Richard, you want to take that?
Richard Corcoran: (32:09)
You’ve reached out to her several times. My office has communicated with you very clearly that the pandemic plan, in it is what we strategize on how to keep our school children safe. And it is not a public record. And if you’d like, we’ll get you the statute. We’ll get you the general counsel to talk to your office. No, no, no. It’s about school safety and it’s about protecting children.
Speaker 5: (32:28)
Ron DeSantis: (32:28)
Okay. Well, so the question is about, so what we did in the beginning, in the middle of March is we restricted outside visitation to nursing homes and longterm care facilities. And then also imposed a prohibition on hospitals from discharging COVID positive nursing home patients back to nursing homes because obviously we didn’t want it to spread and infect other nursing home residents. Now those are, I think, were the right decisions to make and I think that’s contributed to us having fewer per capita fatalities in that community than some of the other states that had more blow ups that had other policies.
Ron DeSantis: (33:18)
At the same time, and I understand there is a huge strain when you’re told you can’t have visitors. We’ve done a bit with department of elder affairs, like send in iPads so they can FaceTime with family members. And we want to be able to do that. I’ve told Secretary Mayhew create a plan. I want people to be able to go in. At the same time, I can’t run the risk of someone having a visitor and then having 30 nursing home residents, 10 days later, having this virus. The cost is very high, so it’s risky. Now, in terms of rapid testing, here’s the problem with the rapid testing.
Ron DeSantis: (33:56)
You have one test that’s 15 minutes that typically runs false positive at an unacceptable rate. Okay. So if you want to go into nursing home, you may test negative, or a false negative. You may test negative on this. You may be infected. You go in. That obviously is not good. We have other tests that are 45 minute that have about 5% are false positives, so that’s also bad. Because imagine if you’re just going somewhere, you get a false positive, and then you’re told to quarantine for two weeks when you really don’t even have the virus. So those rapid tests are, they can be helpful, but there’s not enough accuracy to really say that that’s something that we should hang our hat on. So that’s been a concern of mine. Look, had we continued on our May and early June course and I thought that the disease prevalence was low enough, we may have moved quicker to do it. But I want to see this disease prevalence, I want to see the positivity rate go down before we start. We have over 4,000 facilities in Florida. It isn’t like if we just had five big super centers and we could put infrastructure around there, but there’s no way the state’s going to be able to be at every one of these.
Ron DeSantis: (35:10)
I mean, you’re going to have to have certain guidelines and those guidelines are going to have to follow. And even with all we did to stop visitation and to have screening and the staff and everything, we still had infections. And so it’s a really, really difficult thing. Yes, ma’am. She’s going to ask one behind you.
Speaker 6: (35:35)
Governor, are there any plans to add more COVID recovery units in the Tampa Bay area and then [inaudible 00:35:34]? Are there any plans to look at specific [inaudible 00:35:39]?
Ron DeSantis: (35:44)
So in terms of … Are you talking about in terms of adding new beds or new hospital capacity?
Speaker 6: (35:50)
Ron DeSantis: (35:54)
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So that’s different. So what we, it’s interesting, remember back in March when everyone said we needed to flatten the curve. If you go up, the hospital system would be stressed, you may overwhelm it and that would cause excessive deaths. If you flatten the curve, you can avoid that, but what a lot of people don’t remember is you still have the same number of infections. They’re just spread out over a longer period of time. So our peak before was much lower than a lot of the other states in the, like Northeast, for example.
Ron DeSantis: (36:22)
But as we see, I think a lot of the states that have lower peaks are still seeing cases. Really, the whole Sunbelt is seeing this. And so that means that you have infections you got to deal with, obviously hospital, but we are much better prepared to deal with this. I mean, we have therapeutics like Remdesivir. We have a massive testing infrastructure. Everyone that goes into a hospital now can get tested like that, and they are doing that. My wife and I, we had a baby at the end of March, my wife didn’t get tested.
Ron DeSantis: (36:54)
There weren’t enough tests to go around to do that at the end of March. Now, if you go in to have the child, elective procedure, they’re all doing that. One of the things that we are way better off on today than we were in March and April is we now have a series of skilled nursing facilities that are COVID only. And so if you have an outbreak at a nursing home, maybe you have two residents that test positive, but they’re not … It’s amazing. Some of these residents will test positive and they’re asymptomatic. So maybe you don’t need to send them to the hospital, but you do need to get them out of the nursing home, so it doesn’t spread well.
Ron DeSantis: (37:27)
Now you have these COVID only facilities where you can take them, have a safe place, obviously everyone in there as COVID, so there’s no worry about the spread. And the same thing if they’re in the hospital and then they become medically stable, you have a place to be able to remove them. So what the Tampa Bay area has been using is our Polk County facility, and that has a decent number of beds. I know Secretary Mayhew who would like to have one in the Tampa Bay area or closer, we haven’t been able to necessarily nail down because obviously you have to have a proper facility, you’ve got to get somebody who’s operating it.
Ron DeSantis: (38:01)
Sometimes that’ll be a contractor, sometimes Dolphin Point in Jacksonville, that was just going to be a regular nursing home, but it came online right as COVID was hitting. So Secretary Mayhew said, hey, contract with us and do COVID only, and they did it. WeHealth is running one. They have a COVID recovery now in Fort Myers, which is run by a hospital. And then you have some others who were basically nursing facilities that have transitioned. So I think it’s a really good tool to be able to prevent outbreaks amongst the most vulnerable, but then have places to put medically stable.
Ron DeSantis: (38:36)
So if there was an opportunity and we had the right facility, we knew it could be run, the state would absolutely be there with money and resources to be able to support it without question. Thanks guys.