Jun 3, 2020
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis June 3 Press Conference Transcript
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on Wednesday, June 3. DeSantis announced that bars & gyms can reopen as most of state enters Phase 2 coronavirus recovery. Read all the details of Phase 2 reopening here.
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Ron DeSantis: (00:30)
Well, thanks Tom. And thanks for Universal for hosting us as we make another important announcement regarding Florida’s reopening. First, just want to give an update on the gatherings that have been occurring statewide. Statewide, there have been respectful gatherings of large crowds with isolated instances of individuals who take the opportunity to exploit these events, usually at night, to engage in unlawful activities. Arrests have been reported in Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, and Miami region, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Tampa has seen 90 arrests, Orlando 28. In Tampa, one person was arrested attempting to sell Molotov cocktails from his vehicle. And another was found with a backpack full of mortars. One in Plant City and 67 in Tampa were arrested. Two civilians were reported to sustain minor injuries. One Tampa PD officer sustained minor injuries. Two vehicles were damaged when rocks were thrown at a TPD cruiser, and large rocks were thrown at St. Petersburg Police Department headquarters.
Ron DeSantis: (01:34)
In Orlando, 28 arrests were made, but no significant injuries were reported to civilians. An officer was hit with a rock and received minor injuries. A man was arrested for trying to stab officers with an exposed syringe. There was vandalism at a bank and attempted to break into an ATM. Down in Miami, there was an individual arrested for attempting to incite a riot. In Fort Walton in Santa Rosa County, a person let a small fire under a police vehicle and was arrested.
Ron DeSantis: (02:04)
Florida won’t tolerate rioting, looting, or violence. I want to thank the local officials, local law enforcement, the Florida National Guard, Florida Highway Patrol for their efforts at keeping our community safe. I also want to thank the peaceful demonstrators who have engaged in lawful first amendment activity, some of whom have helped to stymie attempts of some protesters seeking to engage in violent activity. We really appreciate their commitment to nonviolence.
Ron DeSantis: (02:36)
So we are standing by for support with the National Guard. We have them mobilized. I have Florida Highway Patrol teams that have been assisting local communities. We obviously have more support there, but I would just encourage everyone to continue to be peaceful. That’s really the name of the game.
Ron DeSantis: (02:53)
I also announce that at the request of the Secretary of Defense, I’ve authorized 500 National Guardsmen to deploy to the national capitol region. Most of them will be arriving in the region today. The federal government’s helped out Florida in a number of different ways since I’ve been governor, and obviously before. And so when they had a request, I felt it was important to step up and to help out with that.
Ron DeSantis: (03:17)
Today, we’re talking about our plan for Florida’s recovery. It was more than a month ago, about five weeks ago, where I announced the safe, smart, step by step plan for Florida’s recovery. And from the very beginning of March, our plan has been really five main points. Protecting the vulnerable, increase testing, promote social distancing, which you don’t hear about as much anymore over the last week, support hospitals, and protect healthcare workers, and prevent an introduction from outside of the state.
Ron DeSantis: (03:50)
And I want to highlight number one, because I think that’s probably the most important thing that both local and state officials and federal government can do, to be able to combat COVID-19. So which groups are most at risk to COVID-19? I think the data is very clear. I don’t think it’s always communicated very clearly in the media exactly which groups are more at risk, and which groups are at very low risk. But in Florida, since the pandemic began, the number of fatalities related to COVID between ages zero and 18 have been zero. Zero fatalities ages zero to 18.
Ron DeSantis: (04:33)
85% of all COVID-related fatalities have occurred in the age group 65 and older. So of all the fatalities COVID-related in Florida, only 15% of those have been in age 65 or below. There have been more COVID-related fatalities over the age of 90 than the total number of COVID fatalities that have occurred in Florida under the age of 65. And so that really shows you that the risk is 65 and up, but certainly as you get into 75, 80, 90, and then certainly if you have underlying conditions, that is where the risk is most acute.
Ron DeSantis: (05:19)
As you talk about the bulk of, say, our working age population, know the risk is much lower. And the data demonstrates that, not just here in the state of Florida, not just in other states, in other countries, in Europe, in Asia. And I think that that’s very, very clear. So we know where the at risk population is, and we are continuing to focus a lot of our efforts on protecting those.
Ron DeSantis: (05:45)
This is something that we did from the very beginning, because if you looked at the data from the other countries, it was obvious… South Korea, Italy… That this was, I think you had a median age fatalities in Italy at the time was 82 years of age. And so we understood where the real risk lied with this. So we did a lot, working with our longterm care facilities, requiring the visitors and the staff to be screened, temperature, asked questions about who you’ve been in contact with, any travel that you may have done. Eventually, on March 15th, just banned visitors outright because we didn’t want to run the risk of introducing the virus into the facilities. Required the wearing of masks on March 18th. Now that was when places like the World Health Organization said don’t wear masks. We thought it was important to do it, and so we did it.
Ron DeSantis: (06:40)
We also… I think of all the things you could have done one way or the other, we prohibited hospitals from discharging COVID positive residents back into the longterm care facilities. So you have people who are positive but medically stable, and they probably don’t necessarily need hospitalization, but if they’re contagious and you put them back in the longterm care facility, we’ve seen in other states, when that policy was done, it spread like wildfire and caused way more hospitalizations and way more fatalities.
Ron DeSantis: (07:13)
We also have established… Well, I guess that slide isn’t there. But what we’ve understood is, okay, you don’t want to put a COVID positive patient back into a nursing home, but you do have people who test positive, who don’t ever have symptoms that would require them necessarily to go to a hospital. We viewed that as problematic because of the risk of spread in those facilities. These are facilities where you could have spread very quickly.
Ron DeSantis: (07:44)
So we’ve worked with the department of… Agency for Healthcare Administration has worked with different facilities. So you now have in the state of Florida a number of COVID dedicated nursing facilities. So if you have a resident test positive, you don’t have an ability to isolate them, you can transfer them to a COVID positive facility, where they have people who are COVID positive, and the risk of spread is not the same as a normal facility. So you have them in Duval County, Escambia, Polk, Charlotte, Broward. They’re working to have more of those online, but that’s something that’s very, very important because allowing folks to stay in longterm care facilities, if they’re not appropriately isolated, that will lead to spread going forward.
Ron DeSantis: (08:29)
Oh, there it is. COVID data. So you see kind of where we’re looking at right now. That’s all in place, the number of beds you see. And obviously, we’re looking at Miami and some of the other regions. There are some VA facilities that have offered… Or some veterans nursing homes. It takes a little longer when you’re working through a government bureaucracy to do that. So, those are some. There’s probably going to be more online coming very, very soon, but that’s important to be able to protect the most vulnerable.
Ron DeSantis: (09:02)
From the very beginning, you had teams from AHCA, the Department of Health, inspections, assessments, support, because this is very important to protect the vulnerable. We did a mandate of wearing PPE, and a lot of these facilities… they range. Some skilled nursing facilities really have a lot of medical capacity, some other longterm care facilities, they just don’t have as much. So you’re requiring them to do this, but we’re also putting the money where the mouth is. And so you’ve delivered, the state of Florida is delivered more than 10 million mass, a million gloves, half a million face shields and 160,000 gowns, just to longterm care facilities throughout the course of the pandemic. And so that’s a huge amount. In fact, we were in Central Florida with the vice president with HHS, delivering PPE. They started doing that because they saw that when Florida was doing it and really leading the way. So we want to continue to do that.
Ron DeSantis: (09:57)
So protecting the vulnerable. And I would say, if you look at the data, I think there’s probably a pretty clear distinction between fatalities 65 and over who are in longterm care facilities, versus 65 and over who were not, who were living independently. And so those really are very, very significant. So we’re going to continue to do that.
Ron DeSantis: (10:17)
We also are doing the testing. We’ve really stepped up testing. As the supplies became more plentiful, we’ve really done a lot. We’ve tested over a million people in the state of Florida right now. And if you look, I think obviously New York, California, and we’re pretty close to Texas, fighting for number three. As we’ve done this, particularly over the last couple of weeks, you’re really looking at a very low positivity rates, compared to many other states. It has been as low as 0.62, very rarely even hits 5%. It has done that.
Ron DeSantis: (10:53)
And so you have well over 90% of the tests on any given day in the state of Florida are coming back negative. And that’s a good thing. In fact, if you look, the surgeon general was telling me this morning, if you take states that have five million or more people, and you look at the positivity rate, we think Missouri is lower than Florida, but we don’t think any other state would be lower, in terms of the positivity rate. So we certainly have one of the lowest for any state with any significant population. And that’s a good thing.
Ron DeSantis: (11:26)
We’ve also done a lot of proactive testing in longterm care facilities. And so we’ve done over 106,000 tests of residents and staff, over 1400 facilities, where you have Florida National Guard and Department of Health teams showing up on site, doing the test. Obviously, we send it to a lab and get the results. We also have this mobile lab, where you can go in and get 45 minute results. So, that goes to different of the state. And again, the focus on that’s been on longterm care facilities. We did use it for the President when he came, the Secret Service asked to test. So we had it in Cape Canaveral for the launch, and anyone that was going to be around the President did get tested, but generally, that’s been for longterm care facilities as well.
Ron DeSantis: (12:12)
One of the other things we’ve done… So those are not by and large facilities, those are… We’re going in proactively. Some of them don’t even necessarily have anyone with symptoms, but we’re going in and identifying. And what you’ve seen in Florida, we’ve got over 4000 longterm care facilities. You’ve had about 85% have not had a single documented case. And of the ones that have had cases, many of them have had one to three cases.
Ron DeSantis: (12:37)
Now, obviously when you get into situation, we’ve had some where you’ve seen outbreaks. That’s obviously very problematic because you have a very vulnerable population. But this has been able to identify more cases, quite frankly, than if we just sat on our hands. But if you’re able to identify three or four cases and then isolate that, that makes a huge difference going forward. But we also understood… We had all these drive through sites, hospitals were testing, people were-
Ron DeSantis: (13:03)
We had all these drive-thru sites. Hospitals were testing. People were testing, but we wanted to send testing into communities that may be underserved. We’ve now done 17 walk-up test sites throughout the state of Florida. You see them in places like Collier County and Immokalee. You see places in South Florida. This has really expanded testing to places where you probably weren’t having a lot of people tested two months ago. We believe having done almost 50,000 tests now in those, that that’s been something that’s been very good for a lot of those communities.
Ron DeSantis: (13:38)
Then of course, our drive-thru sites… over 200,000 tests to date. 15 state-supported sites… I’ve said it repeatedly. It’s true. We could do twice as many tests at our drive-thru sites as we’re currently doing. That’s just purely based off demand. People do want to get tested. You have these different sites. Feel free to go now. When we had some of the demonstrations, some of those in some of the areas were closed. I think most of them were open yesterday. We want to, obviously, continue having that as being something that’s available for people.
Ron DeSantis: (14:14)
We’re also doing antibody testing. First responders and healthcare professionals can go through these various drive-thru sites, get the antibody test. We’re testing. I mean, depending on the area, I think Orlando’s been about three, three and a half percent. Miami’s been more. Those are important things to know. Then we’re also working with locals to do serology studies so that you can get a representative sample. The bad thing about the drive-thru is these are people that are probably more likely to have contracted this. It’s important to see what’s the actual prevalence in a representative sample. Miami-Dade did that with the University of Miami. We’ve seen other studies. Stanford… Some other places have done it. That’ll be good for the state of Florida, to be able to have access to those antibody results.
Ron DeSantis: (15:07)
Then on Friday, we announced a partnership with Publix and Home Depot where people, when they’re shopping, if they want to just go in the parking lot, they’ll actually be a site set up. Here’s what Publix has set up so far. Home Depot… We were at Boca Raton. They’re going to add some more sites going forward. This is a convenient way. If you can’t necessarily make it out to some of the drive-thru sites, but you’re running an errand and you want to go get swabbed, you can go do that at our store-testing sites.
Ron DeSantis: (15:38)
Protecting the vulnerable and increasing testing has been a huge, huge focus. We think it’s been very effective. Now, the most significant thing, I think, to look at when you’re looking at something like the coronavirus is… Okay. If I or someone that’s 20 gets the virus, that’s going to have different clinical consequences than if somebody who’s got serious underlying conditions and is 85 gets the coronavirus. Not every case has the same clinical significance. If you remember in March, in the beginning of April, most of the people testing were people who were 65 and up, people that had symptoms. What’s happened since then is you’ve had way more testing being done, but the criteria has been expanded so that you don’t even have to have symptoms. Are you identifying people with clinical consequences or not?
Ron DeSantis: (16:33)
Now, obviously, if you’re just a normal person that has very mild symptoms, you’re not going to go to the hospital. You still need to isolate. You don’t want to infect other people. We really look at the clinical consequences. If you look at the peak for Florida for COVID ICU hospitalization statewide, was April 12th. We had 838 COVID-positive patients in the ICU in the state of Florida. The figures we had from June 2nd, I can look today, probably something similar, 417. That’s a 50% reduction in ICU hospitalizations from the second week of April to the beginning of June. That’s a trend that you obviously like to see.
Ron DeSantis: (17:21)
Same thing with the ventilators… We topped out at 594 on the ventilators at the 12th of April, coinciding with the peak of the ICU. Now, beginning of June, down to 207. I think we may even be below 200 now, based on yesterday, but we’ll have to look at that. That’s a 65% reduction in ventilator use. Remember, there were people saying a couple months ago that there would not be enough ventilators for people in state of Florida. We’ve got at least 6,000 ventilators that have been idle for pretty much the whole time during this. Those are really good trends to be looking at and obviously, when you see a reduction like that.
Ron DeSantis: (18:07)
We started with phase one about a month ago, but we only did the 64 counties excluding the three large Southeast Florida counties. The reason why we did that was those Southeast Florida counties represented, I think at that time, about 60% of all the cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities. They still represent the bulk of those. It’s about 29% of the state’s population in those three counties, but have had an inordinate amount of cases, hospitalizations, and fatality. The other 64 counties in the state of Florida… That’s 15-plus million people that we’re talking about here. If just those counties were their own state, it’d be the fifth largest state in the nation.
Ron DeSantis: (18:50)
We really felt, when we went into phase one, that those counties were ready. I’ll show some statistics why in terms of the prevalence. We did that without the three Southeast Florida counties. Today, as we take another step, we’re applying this to the 64 counties and obviously, going to work with the three Southeast Florida counties as we go forward. If you look at the hospitalizations just for ICU in these counties, the 64 counties, you peaked out at 358 ICU COVID-positive hospitalizations. Now, for 15 to 16 million people, that’s a much lower rate than what you’re seeing in a lot of these other states. That’s now down to under 200 in these, so 15, 16 million people, less than 200 in the ICU. I think you’ve seen another pretty significant decline in terms of the phase one counties. They peaked with ventilators on April 9th and now, down to 77 patients on ventilators. That’s a 70% decline.
Ron DeSantis: (19:56)
If just those 64 counties were its own state, and you did the number of cases per 100,000, which is an apple to apple comparison, you would look at these other states. I mean, the phase one Florida counties would be way, way below in terms of the prevalence. Pennsylvania, Michigan… In some of these, would be more than 10 times the number in terms of cases per 100,000. Again, this is the 64 counties in phase one, looking at the prevalence there. Then the same thing, I think, with the fatalities. Per 100,000 in those phase one counties, the rate much lower than many of the other states and obviously, way lower than a place like New York.
Ron DeSantis: (20:42)
We also look at… This is the phase one counties, the 64 counties. In those, the white is the number of tests that come back. Then the blue is the number of positives. Now, obviously, you look at that. The positive results are much lower than the number of tests. You look at 4/3. You have about 550 cases out of 7,400 tests. Then you look at 5/20. You have about the same cases, 581, but that’s out of 35,000 tests. Since we went into phase one, now you’ve seen a real big increase in the number of tests that are going on in these counties. Those are the new cases. If you look again, beginning of April, a fraction of the tests are being conducted. As we get in, particularly, the last 10 days, you’ve had 40,000, 50,000 test results sometimes coming in a single day for our phase one counties. I think… There we go. Again, total tests, that’s taken away from that. Clearly, last few weeks, definitely an increase on that. I think that’s a result of community-testing sites. I think it’s a result of going to more nursing homes, continuing to do that. We have seen cases in prisons. If someone tests positive, then kind of everyone in that area will get tested. You’ve been able to identify more cases that way, as well. The positivity rate… Florida never really had a terribly high positivity rate. You look at the phase one counties. The highest was 10.5%. I could tell you, throughout most of this pandemic, there were states that would kill to have had a 10%. I mean, some of them were running 30, 40. I mean, New Jersey was 50% for a month. If you included Miami and those counties, I think we were never really over 15% in those early days.
Ron DeSantis: (22:54)
As I mentioned, if you just did the state of Florida, anyone over 5 million, we’re one of the absolute lowest. You look through April. We’re typically 5%, 6%. Now, it’ll go up and down depending on how many states. I mean, we had 0.6% one day because you had a big test dump. A couple of days before that, it was 5.8 because you had fewer tests come in, so these things kind of go. Sometimes it’s noisy, but I think the general trend has been pretty clear. We’ve had a low positivity rate in the state of Florida. That’s a good thing.
Ron DeSantis: (23:27)
You also look at the COVID-like illnesses, visits for original phase one counties. Clearly, April, end of March, early April, then we were seeing more visits. We’ve seen the visits decline. We’re at a very low number overall in those phase one counties. You also look at influenza-like illness visits. Again, much higher, end of March, beginning of April, than it’s been and continue to trend downward, which is great. Then going in for a cough, which is one of the symptoms for COVID-19, much higher, beginning of April, than it is now.
Ron DeSantis: (24:06)
W did phase one for the 64 counties at the beginning of May. Then May 18th, we brought in Southeast Florida into phase one. By May 18th, we kind of had the whole state under phase one as part of our Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s recovery. Basic stuff… I mean, limited capacity of restaurants, retail, gym with social distancing, sanitation, limited capacity, museum, libraries. Professional sports venues… We want these professional sports here. I know there’s discussions to bring some of these to Orlando. We’re obviously very supportive of that. We’d love to see that happening. Amusement parks… We’re here right now. We wanted them to work with their local governments, submit plans. Universal did a great job, had a great plan. I think as you’ve seen, they’re taking safety very seriously to keep their guests safe.
Ron DeSantis: (25:02)
As we got into phase one, I got a request, actually, from the Orange County mayor here about doing some of the barber and hair, so we had different protocols in place when we did that. Obviously, elective surgeries for hospitals… very, very important. Then one thing we did do is we put the onus on long-term care facilities. Or, excuse me, on hospitals. We didn’t let them discharge COVID-positive patients through the whole time back. Even if you have a long-term care resident who’s in for something else, before you discharge them back, test them for COVID because if they’re not symptomatic and they go back, that could be very problematic. We think requiring hospitals to do that, even for people that don’t have COVID symptoms, is a way to promote safety. Then as I mentioned, we required for phase one, long-term care facilities to affirmatively transfer a resident if they can’t appropriately isolate them. Those COVID-only nursing homes have received some. Obviously, some have gone to the hospital. These are…
Ron DeSantis: (26:03)
Nursing homes have received some. Obviously some have gone to the hospital. These are people that are medically stable and probably don’t require hospitalization, but if you can’t isolate, you do run the risk of a larger outbreak. We obviously let the counties request vacation rentals. Youth activities I added as we went on, but I think the evidence on that has been very positive, to have kids out and about doing stuff. So that’s where we were on that.
Ron DeSantis: (26:25)
If you look what the White House put out for Phase Two, not very different from what we’re already doing. If you looked at the senior care facilities, we’re obviously going to continue restricting that. Large venues were authorized under Phase One, like movie theaters, and we didn’t do the movie theaters in Phase One, but we did do obviously some of the modified dining. We never restricted church, religious services in the state of Florida. It’s constitutionally protected. They’ve worked to take whatever precautions and I think that that collaborative way was a better way to do it than to just say, “You’re going to shut down.”
Ron DeSantis: (27:03)
Elective surgeries are ongoing. Gyms are ongoing. That has been with Phase One. So really one of the big difference is the bars. So in our Phase Two, we will be going with bars being able to operate, consistent with this guidance, diminished standing room occupancy. So basically outdoor seating with social distance, a certain amount indoors, but you’re seated to get served. People go, enjoy, have a drink, it’s fine. We want to not have huge crowds piling in.
Ron DeSantis: (27:36)
And so Phase Two will be our 64 counties, Miami, Broward and Palm Beach may seek approval, have a plan submitted through the mayor or the county administrator. And I would say there have been some good things going on in those counties. They were hit a little bit more severely than other parts of Florida, but if you look at Broward, for example, I think their peak hospitalization was probably the second week of April for COVID patients. I think there were about 450 COVID patients. Broward now has under 200 people hospitalized, just general hospitalizations, not even ICU for COVID. And so they’ve had some good trends in places like Broward, but they’re on a little bit different schedule. We’ve worked with them collaboratively. We’re going to continue to do that as we go forward.
Ron DeSantis: (28:23)
So the changes will be restaurants have been able to do the social distanced seating. They can seat people on a bar now if they want to with the appropriate measures, and then bars and pubs may operate at 50% capacity inside, full capacity outside, and it’s going to be seated service, which is what I think Ohio did that and I think that that makes a lot of sense as we just inch into phase Two to do it in a way that’s very measured. Obviously we’ve had retail operating. The main thing is social distancing, sanitation protocols. We had a lot of retail operating throughout this whole thing, Home Depot, all these places. So not a huge change there. Gyms, social distancing, sanitation. Those have been open now for several weeks. So we want, obviously want people to be in shape. We think that that’s good for general health.
Ron DeSantis: (29:21)
Entertainment. So things like movie theaters and bowling alleys, they have a 50% capacity, appropriate social distancing and sanitation protocols. Those had not been operating up to this point. They now have a pathway to do that. And I think if you do the distancing and sanitation like some other states have done, I think it’s probably going to be something that will work out for them.
Ron DeSantis: (29:49)
Parimutuel facilities. So I think many people know Seminole tribe of Florida, they opened their Tampa facility. Now, of course they have the ability to do. They don’t fall under our jurisdiction. They had a lot of different things in terms of safety, seems to have worked well. We obviously want to give our parimutuels in Florida the ability to present a safety plan as a way to move forward. Now this has to have an endorsement from the local official. So you see this and this will be South Florida would be interested in this, some other parts of the state that have these facilities. And so it’ll be similar to what the theme parks did. We just want to make sure that there’s a plan and that people are adhering to the necessary safety protocols.
Ron DeSantis: (30:34)
And then the remaining personal service businesses that were not operating. Department of Health has guidance so if you stick to the Department of Health guidance, you could do it. But again, we looked at some other states, Colorado, Georgia had had this now for I think over a month, seems to have worked out well if they follow the appropriate health guidance.
Ron DeSantis: (30:58)
General guidance, and I think this is really, really important to continue to stress for people 65 or older or, and sometimes and or with underlying medical conditions, strongly encouraged to avoid crowds and to take measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19. What we see on this is if you give me 1000 infections with people under 30, the clinical consequences of that is likely to be much less severe than if we had 100 infections age 75 and above. And so it’s really, really important to continue to avoid crowds and to continue to limit the risk of exposure. And I would say even people who aren’t in those groups, be careful when you’re interacting with folks who may be in those vulnerable groups because that’s where you’re really going to see the significant health consequences of the virus.
Ron DeSantis: (31:53)
We also think that, and we’ve been doing this by sending tests, not just having National Guard show, but even sending self swabs to some of the longterm care facilities. But if you’re working at one of those longterm care facilities, then you really need to be tested on a routine basis. And sometimes the National Guard will come and do it. There’s drive-through sites, walk-up sites. Obviously hospitals are helping us out with this, but really, really important because if a staff member is positive, that’s how it’s going to get into these facilities and infect the residents, and so we really want to do that.
Ron DeSantis: (32:27)
President’s guidance had recommendation for groups of 50 or less and so we’re putting that guidance out as well. Now, obviously we see throughout the country groups much, much larger than that, but this is the guidance. And so we are recommending that folks avoid. If you’re going above that, you have an event like a funeral or a wedding, do some of the things that Universal’s doing, temperature checks, ask people who they’ve been in contact with. Those have been effective at creating safe environments, and so I would encourage people to do that.
Ron DeSantis: (33:03)
And then finally, Florida’s universities developed a task force to create a framework to reopen the campuses and they are going to present their plans on June 23rd, 2020. I think having our universities operating again is very, very important. And so we want to stress that we have confidence in their ability to come up with good plans and to be able to move forward.
Ron DeSantis: (33:26)
So I think that we’re really fortunate in the state of Florida, particularly these 64 counties. It’s not like there haven’t been challenges. They’re obviously are challenges, but I think generally speaking have weathered this much better than anyone predicted. Now, the virus isn’t gone. I think that we’re testing a lot. We are identifying cases particularly in prisons, amongst agriculture workers, amongst areas where you have a lot of congregation, close quarters for a long period of time. And so we’re going to continue to keep an eye on that, continue to test in those areas, but I think we have an opportunity to continue to move forward in a safe, smart step by step approach. And I think it’ll give more people in Florida more opportunities and I think it’s the right way to go forward.
Ron DeSantis: (34:14)
So this is going to be signed today and it will take effect this Friday. And we’ll wait for the three civil work with the three Southeast Florida counties to see how they’re developing and whether they want to move into Phase Two. But for now, the 64 counties are moving forward to the next step. And with that, I’ll takes some questions. Yes, sir.
Speaker 3: (34:34)
Governor, can you tell us [inaudible 00:34:35] information about [inaudible 00:08:36]?
Ron DeSantis: (34:41)
I wish I could. Let’s just say this, that I’m all in from the state’s perspective. I don’t think you can find a better place than Orlando to do this. I think it’s very exciting. What I’ve told all the people I’ve talked to with a variety of leagues is, if you look, we were able, we helped Mickelson do the event with Tiger Woods and it was great. They raised 20 million. This is four people playing golf, charity. They got six million TV viewers for this. So I think people are hungry for this and I think the first sport back, if it is the NBA, I think that they’re going to be able to bring more fans into the fold and I think here in Orlando, I think would be a great place to do it.
Ron DeSantis: (35:22)
I would say the same for baseball. We’ve told baseball Florida wants to be a part. I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but we would love to be a part of the solution to be able to get that sport going again. Obviously we’d love to see major league soccer as well. So you really, Orlando really can be the epicenter of the comeback of professional sports and I’m all for it.
Ron DeSantis: (35:42)
If you look, what I’ve tried to do on all this is we’ve had things issued from state. We always like to work with local folks. Miami has done it a little bit different than some other places. The one thing I did preempt was sports needs to know they can come here and so that’s a decision from the state. I know places like Orlando really want to have it too, but we really wanted to send that signal to know we’re going to roll out the red carpet and work with you and I think it’d be really exciting.
Ron DeSantis: (36:08)
So hopefully, there’s an announcement very soon. I’ve read what you’ve read about getting people back into training camp relatively soon, starting to play sometime in late July, and I think that’d be really exciting.
Speaker 4: (36:19)
[crosstalk 00:36:19] police reforms on [inaudible 00:36:21]?
Ron DeSantis: (36:25)
So it’s a great question. So when I saw the video of that cop murdering George Floyd, I was just absolutely appalled by what I saw, but I immediately asked folks that FDLA and others, how in the hell could you get away with even doing that tactic? And sure enough, state of Florida, you do not put knee on a neck like that. That is not good training. I think it’s going to … We’re going to see whether this cop, I think he had a lot of complaints, he’s maybe had a lot of problems, but why would you even go that route and then obviously to do it for such a length of time? Totally, totally inappropriate.
Ron DeSantis: (37:05)
So I think you’ve got to look at one, swift accountability, not just for the officer who had the knee, but the other ones that didn’t do anything, and then you have the DOJ with the civil rights case. And I think that’s appropriate too when you have really, really egregious situations. And so, but I also think what happened in Minneapolis is that, I know we’ve had a lot of work over the years at different Police Departments and Sheriffs Departments here in Florida, so I think you’ve got to look at it on an individual basis, but I think that everyone agrees that that’s just totally intolerable what happened.
Speaker 5: (37:41)
Governor, [crosstalk 00:11:42]-
Ron DeSantis: (37:42)
Speaker 5: (37:43)
What’s overall these plans of the theme parks reopening as well? Have you visited any of the theme parks [inaudible 00:37:48]? And when do you think we can see water parks come back? [inaudible 00:37:54]?
Ron DeSantis: (37:57)
Well, it’s a good … So I have, now this is the first time I’ve been to any parks since they’ve reopened. Now I think many of you know I have a newborn, a two year old and a three year old and it’s a little bit tough lift. I can tell you if they were five, seven and eight, we’d be here this weekend probably because I think the kids would really love it. I’m happy that they’re doing the water parks. My kids aren’t quite old enough for that yet so we probably aren’t going to do that. But when they do, we think that that’s great. I also think it’s pretty low risk if you look at the chlorine and then the outdoors and so it’s good.
Ron DeSantis: (38:28)
So we’re really excited about this opening, and I can tell you this. The Panhandle, when we were doing all this, we started getting into April, they were like, “We need our vacation rentals,” and I’m like, it’s like we just weren’t ready for that but then what I said is, “Okay. You can request that into May. So if your County asked me, you show what you’re going to do to make sure that we’re keeping safe.” So they did it, they had good plans and other areas have done it. Central Florida has done it as well. But man, I think they’re at capacity like they’ve never seen before. So I think that when you have places like Universal-
Ron DeSantis: (39:02)
-seen before. So I think that, when you have places like Universal that are making sure everyone’s safe and taking all these things, that gives people confidence that they can come and enjoy themselves and really, I think, Florida’s leading the way on that. But part of it is because you have places like Universal, there’s another park down the street. I can’t remember its name, but they’re probably doing something similar in terms of really being forward-thinking in this. And I think that that’s great. That’s what we want people to see. I would also say, throughout this whole time, you’ve heard different things about, oh my God, someone’s on the beach, there’s going to be an outbreak. Someone’s doing this. If you look, not a lot of evidence of widespread outdoor transmission. So if you’re outside at a theme park, if you’re at a water park, some of these things, I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I think we’ve seen more and more studies look at that and say the risk of transmission dramatically less. So in a state like Florida, we’re the fishing capital of the country, the boating capital of the country. Obviously our theme parks, we view those as being recreation that’s much low-risk than some other recreation that you could see that other states would offer. Yes, sir.
Ron DeSantis: (40:28)
Well, I think part of it is because it’s not all done at the state level. As you know, we have 67 different county health departments, it’s not all done by the health departments. You actually have some law enforcement agencies that will follow up with it. So it’s very decentralized. I can tell you we have screened over 50,000 people coming from the New York City area and the Louisiana. Most of it has been airplane travel into the state of Florida, some on 95 coming down, and then some on I-10. So you have that, you do it, but I would say, and I do think just doing that has made a big difference, because that deterred some people from coming.
Ron DeSantis: (41:08)
There were people, I remember, early on who, they were followed up with, they lied, they found them on a beach, and then they went back to New York. It did happen. So it was effective, but I think it’s just because it’s decentralized and it’s not all done through the Department of Health, you have different folks doing different things. We are also going to look at that policy going forward. I haven’t made a decision yet, but I think you look around the country and, quite frankly, the prevalence of this in other states has declined. So I don’t want to have restrictions to have them. I think Louisiana has done much better, if you look at how their curve has gone. They have way fewer cases than they did. Obviously, they still have some issues, but it is not anywhere like it was six or eight weeks ago. So that’s a good thing. So if we see that, then we should respond to that.
Ron DeSantis: (42:00)
RNC, okay. So yeah my view would be, I think North Carolina approached it as saying, okay, it’s a default no, and then maybe we’ll see. And my view would be, it should be a default yes, and then as we get closer, you can make determinations about how you do it. But I’ve talked with folks at the RNC; we could potentially, we’ll see what the prevalence is of the virus. You have mitigation measures like face masks, you can test, you can do all those things. So on all these things, particularly as you look months in advance, my view would be we should assume we’re going to be doing those, welcome this stuff, and then as we get closer, if you need to call an audible, you can always call an audible.
Ron DeSantis: (42:43)
But I don’t like how some states have said, oh, we’re not going to have anyone ever in an arena until 2021. I’m thinking, how could you possibly know that that’s the case? We would like to have it, obviously Orlando, just because of the hotel capacity, the arena would be an obvious place. I know Jacksonville is very much interested in having it. I’ve talked to the mayor of Miami Dade, I think obviously they have big events a lot, so this is almost three months out. I think that we probably are going to be able to pull it off, but you know what? If it gets closer and you need to call an audible, heck, he has the CDC at his disposal, he could tell us, the president could tell us what needs to be done to be able to do it.
Ron DeSantis: (43:29)
I think to just brush away a potential hundred million-dollar impact when the chance of us being able … we have a good chance of being able to do it, I look around what’s happened in Asia and Europe, you look at those numbers in Europe now coming out with this, they’re about a month ahead of us. But man, it’s really declined in Europe. Clearly, it’s declined in the United States from March and early April, and we don’t know exactly, but there haven’t been second waves in any of these European countries. So again, you got to prepare for that, you got to be ready to tackle how it comes, but boy, I think that we should want to have things like that.
Ron DeSantis: (44:10)
So we’ll see what happens. It seems like North Carolina may have missed its chance, I know they’re look, I know there’s other states that are interested in having it, but I think it would be good for us here in the state of Florida. And that’s not from a partisan perspective, because if Biden called me and said they wanted to do Dem here, I would support that because I think the impact to the community, I think, from an economic perspective, would be positive.
Ron DeSantis: (44:46)
Oh, I think they should definitely look at that. I can tell you, FDLE does not, they train against that, they’re not trained to use that, and I think for good reason. And especially, I think what made this even more egregious, the guy was handcuffed. I mean, it’s like, are you kidding me? So really, really bad. I really would like to get the background on this cop, I heard he had 16 or 17 complaints. And look, just because someone files a complaint, obviously people have the right to defend … doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valid. But when you see all those complaints, it’d be interesting to see how he’s behaved over the course of his career, and was there a breakdown in that police department from not holding him accountable?
Ron DeSantis: (45:27)
What I think you see, you talk to law enforcement, sheriff, police chiefs, rank-and-file officers, deputies, when something like that happens, they’re the ones that dislike it the most because then they get viewed negatively. So I think they want, if someone’s doing that, swift accountability. Now, in this case, you did have a prosecution, and I think that’s good. But could this have been handled two years ago with some of these instances, and maybe we’d have obviated this? That’s where I think … when you have position of authority like that, there’s just certain number of people who respect it, who aren’t going to abuse it. Then there’s others who may be inclined to do it, but if they know they’re going to get held accountable, then they won’t, that keeps them in check.
Ron DeSantis: (46:10)
Then you do have some of these people, they think they can get away with everything, and they think that they can abuse … they think the badge gives them the ability to treat people poorly. You got to identify those people, and you got to get them out. When you do that, I think that the rule of law is better, and I think our citizens will be safer as a result. We’ll do one more, yes, ma’am.
Ron DeSantis: (46:42)
So if you look at the April, the end of April unemployment report, it was about 1.06 million unemployed, we’ve paid about that many claims now, between 3.5 … I think over $3.5 billion now. That is so much more than state has ever paid, and this is just in a short week period. So I’m glad that people are getting checks, obviously they’re continuing to process, but I can tell you, and you probably don’t hear about it, because when people get the money, obviously they go about their lives, which they should. But we have people submitting and getting paid within in seven- to 10-day window now, and I think that that’s a good thing.
Ron DeSantis: (47:19)
Now, the DEO has gone back with folks who are caught up in queues, maybe needed to add something, maybe there needed to be wages or other things qualified. But to pay out over 3.5 billion, I can tell you, if you guys had any sense of this system, what it was looking like at the beginning of April, it was not looking good. It was a very, very problematic system. So we’ve worked really hard at it, it’s important to people. To get thrown out of a job just on the drop of a hat because of this mitigation is not easy, particularly for people who are making lower incomes. They don’t exactly have stashes of money in the bank, so it’s important to get it out.
Ron DeSantis: (47:58)
We’re going to continue to work to do it, but to have over a million claims and over $3.5 billion, I think that’s more than the last four or five years combined in the state of Florida, so we want to continue to do it. And hopefully, you continue to do that, you also will have people as they start going back to work, we actually have people calling the DEO saying, look, I’m back at work, I just got another check, and the DEO’s like, no, look, because you applied on this date, you’re entitled to this much, so it’s fine. We’ve had people call back, say they want to give back some of the money, but they were entitled to it. So we want to make sure they’re able to get it.
Ron DeSantis: (48:37)
Thanks, I look forward to coming back. Maybe I’ll be back soon when we can announce something involving professional sports. Take care.