Oct 12, 2021
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Press Conference Transcript October 12: Covid Vaccine Mandates
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference on October 12, 2021.He discussed his opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and his wife’s recent cancer diagnosis. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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Governor Ron DeSantis: (00:00)
Yeah, the best beach in the United States, certainly one of the best and certainly one of the best in the world here in St. Pete beach. I have Dane Eagle and Jamal Sal from my administration. I also want to recognize the mayor here of St. Pete beach, as well as a lot of our city commissioners. And then we have a lot of folks who are local business owners, including JT here, who I’ll introduce in a second.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (00:23)
We are doing a number of awards this week to help support Florida’s infrastructure, advance job training, and facilitate economic growth. We were in Polk county yesterday. I did a huge project. That’s going to be instrumental in boosting jobs and manufacturing, and other capabilities there. We’re also been continuing to welcome new businesses in, we just did an event in the Space Coast, where you have a massive satellite manufacturer is going to build the biggest manufacturing facility for space satellites in the world.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (00:56)
So we’re, we’re happy to do that. Continue to do infrastructure as well, for things like hurricane Michael recovery. So we were in the panhandle last week, continuing on those efforts. Here, I think we have an opportunity to do some good things, St. Pete beach. And so what we’re doing, we are providing my administration, I think what will be the final $2 million to continue and finish the wastewater system upgrades that will certainly support economic growth here in St. Pete beach.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:29)
As I mentioned, it was rated the number one beach in the U S and fifth best in the world. And we have a lot of people that want to come here, as you can see, pretty nice place to be at this time of year, especially. But this infrastructure is needed to allow the city to be able to expand its economic footprint, hotels, accommodations.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:51)
And so St. Pete beach is doing 2 million. We’re going to do 2 million, and they’ll be able to finalize the overhaul of their wastewater system and restore capacity. And based on current proposals of what this will mean, economically, they expect to create about 1300 new jobs and generate an extra $13 million annually, as a result of this project. So this funding will benefit really all parts of the local economy. You know, if you have more hotel capacity, that helps restaurants here. Like Crabby Bills. Also helps people who do things like charter fishing, helps retailers. It really helps across the board.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (02:29)
And this announcement of course, builds on the commitment that we’ve made to this area’s wastewater improvements through the Department of Environmental Protection. The city also received a $13 million low-interest loan through Florida’s clean water state revolving fund to start their wastewater system upgrades. And they expect the entire project to be completed within the next two years.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (02:52)
We’re going to keep plugging along to continue to make Florida, really the top destination in many respects. In terms of across the board, economically, if you look, we’ve had 16 consecutive months of private sector, job growth. Even though we’re so tourism dependent and service dependent, our unemployment’s been been below the national average for the last 13 months. And we are over performing the national average in areas related to tourism included, hotel demand, traveler spending air traffic, air travel capacity.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (03:30)
Hotel room revenue in August of 2021 in Florida was up 11% compared to pre COVID August of 2019. Now the US as a whole, for that comparison declined 5%. So we’re outpacing the nation big time there. Through September of 2021, we have over 80% higher vacation rental bookings than we did in 2019 again, pre COVID. And then if you look forward over the next month and a half or so, we have bookings for vacation rentals that are 41% higher than what we had between October 8th and November 30th, 2019. Air capacity to Florida, 2% higher than 2019.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (04:18)
The US as a whole is down 18% compared to 2019. And if you look at forward looking, we’re looking at 9% higher through the end of November, compared to that same period in 2019. And if you look at the quarter two 2021 visitors to Florida, almost 32 million visitors, which was a 223% increase from 2020, which you might expect. But also a 6% increase from that same period in 2019.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (04:49)
And so we want to keep that momentum going, and we understand that projects like this can really make a difference. You know, we’re also happy to report that you know, about a month and a half ago, actually about two months ago, we launched a project to get treatment available for COVID-19 all across the state through monoclonal antibodies. And so since we did that in mid August, we’ve had over 135,000 Floridians that have received these monoclonal treatments through 25 state sites.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (05:21)
We’ve had 55 consecutive days in decline of the seven day average for hospital admissions. Admissions are down well over 80%, since we started the treatments, and the hospital census has declined statewide for 49 consecutive days. And currently 47 states have higher seven day case rates than the state of Florida does.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (05:46)
Now, even as we were doing this, we still weren’t missing a beat economically, but it sure is good to be able to see many, many people, thousands and thousands of people being able get treatment and being able to get kept from the hospital. So we’re going to continue to supporting that, as we see whatever comes in store in that regard. You know, we want to make sure that that folks understand that there’s options for them to be able to, to be able to get themselves better.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (06:11)
So we’re happy to be here in St. Pete beach. The backdrop is fantastic. You can see why people want to come here. I think this will mean even more people will be able to come here in the future. So we’re going to have our secretaries here, say a few words about this project, and then we’re going to have Jake JT. Corellas, who’s the director of business development from Crabby Bill’s family brands to talk a little bit about how things have been going on in this neck of the woods. Okay. Dane?
Dane Eagle: (06:40)
Thank you, governor. And thank you all for ordering this perfect day. We might to ditch our suits and the flight back to Tallahassee and hang out for a little while. This was perfect. But really thank you to the governor for his leadership. He has made it clear that Florida is open for business.
Dane Eagle: (06:51)
Many states in the union have been engulfed by the tides of the pandemic. But here in Florida, under the governor’s leadership, we’ve been pushing back against that tide. And not only just keeping Florida open, but doubling down and investing in future growth. So we have the governor’s job growth grant fund, which was a top priority of his, this last session. It’s a very competitive grant. We’re looking across the entire state. I’m working closely with Jamal’s team to, to advise the governor’s team, and looking at where can we invest?
Dane Eagle: (07:16)
Where can we invest money to make sure that people can come to Florida, but also existing businesses continue to grow and thrive? So we look at infrastructure improvements and we look at workforce training. And the governor made it clear that he wanted to be in St. Pete beach today to finalize this project. The beach has been under a moratorium for growth, but with this final investment of 2 million to match the city’s investment of 2 million, we can finally complete those wastewater projects and open up this area for growth, which is going to be phenomenal for job creation, which is our goal here today. So thank you to the Governor for his leadership. Thank you all for this perfect day.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (07:48)
Jamal Sal: (07:49)
Yep. So before I began this role, I was living in Pinellas, in St. Pete, right on Gandy. So I’m in Tallahassee now. So when this project came across our radar, I was working with Dane who is our DEO. And my role is to go around the country with the Governor, promoting Florida, and telling the country and the world, why we’re the best place for business Then Dane and his shop. They serve as the compliance shop, the bank with the resources given to help communities.
Jamal Sal: (08:21)
And with this project for infrastructure, what it does specifically, is allow us to tell companies small and large, that Florida’s open for business, but then we have a governor who’s investing not only for businesses now, but in the future, who want to make sure that they have all the resources to thrive in the state of Florida. So it was said that this is the best beach in America, but I’m thankful that we have the best Governor in America, right?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (08:47)
JP, Introduce yourself. So they know.
Speaker 4: (08:53)
Good afternoon. My name is Jason Corellis. So, this is our family business. We have restaurants up and down the coast here, been here for a very long time. We’ve been through a lot, but this is certainly some of the biggest trials that we’ve been through. And I can tell you, we are so grateful that we’ve had the Governor’s leadership throughout that process.
Speaker 4: (09:08)
You know, I stand up here, and I’ve had opportunities to speak at this capacity before. But the people who are not up here or the children that are our staff gets to support, our staff, being able to pay their bills. And they were only able to do that by the leadership that we have behind us here. So I’m so grateful. I’ll beat the drum all day for what we have, Florida is very much open for business.
Speaker 4: (09:31)
2021 has been tremendous when you compare it to 2019, which we thought was going to be the best we were going to have. So when you go and you add 1400 rooms to this beach, you’re adding hundreds of thousands of people to this area, every year. That money comes back through our businesses, goes back out into our communities, into the pockets of our staff. So we’re just so grateful, and I’m just pleased to have this opportunity and be able to call Florida home. Thank you.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (10:00)
Great. You know, I didn’t say anything to Jamal yet, but I mean, he’s a big Florida Gator and I know this was not, I think it was a … what was it, Kentucky game was a week ago? Or weekend? You know, it’s just one of those things. I mean, we want to get everything clicking. You know, we’ve got tourism, we’ve got a lot of stuff. We’ve got to get that college football clicking going forward. So I think we’ll work on that. See what we can do.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (10:26)
But we’re excited for this. We’re going to have more projects that we’re going to be rolling out through the job growth grant fund, as well as other ways that we’re going to be able to fund stuff. And then we’ll look as we get into the legislative session.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (10:37)
Some, fortunately our revenues are so strong that we have really healthy reserves. We’re going to be able to continue to be fiscally prudent. We have the lowest per capita tax burden in the United States. But, also being able to meet the needs of, of our state, particularly a growing state and an infrastructure is going to be a big part of that. Also, we’re going to do more and more with job training, particularly vocational education. So we’re excited. We think this is a great step, but we’re going to be doing a lot more in the coming days and weeks. Okay. I have the time to take a couple of questions.
Speaker 5: (11:18)
Governor [inaudible 00:11:19]
Governor Ron DeSantis: (11:19)
So what we do in Florida is there is a pre and post election audit that happens automatically. You know, so that has happened. It passed with flying colors, in terms of how that’s going. But part of the reason we had a successful election is because we were very much tuned into this from the very beginning of my administration, and made sure we didn’t have repeats of what we’ve seen throughout this state. Of course, in 2000, but even as recently, as 2018, where you had all these late votes coming in and it was a total disaster. So I think we did a good job. And so then the question is, going forward, we did a great election package. And I think some of the things that we did in there to make sure that there’s a voter ID for not only in person, but also when you’re doing absentee voting.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (12:07)
Also, making sure there’s no ballot harvesting. That is totally toxic, and that’s a really undermines confidence. But if you look at some of these states that did that last year, you’d have like one person would basically be like, a mule taking all these ballots all across town. You know, that is totally unacceptable in the state of Florida and it’s illegal. And as well, we banned Zuckerbucks.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (12:31)
And so Zuckerberg, he spent over $400 million through these quote non-profits to quote, help with election administration. But what they would do is they would require certain things to be done like mass mail balloting, ballot harvesting, these things. And they would focus on partisan voter turnout, basically. That was totally unacceptable. Now they did put some money into Florida, not as much as they did, in like the Texas or Pennsylvania, some of that, but that is now banned. An election should be administered by these offices, not by private tech moguls coming in and basically commandeering the machinery of the elections.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (13:11)
And so, I think that we’ve taken a lot of action. We had a good election. I think the issue is, is okay, do you want to make sure you continue doing that going forward? I do think though, we need to make sure that if you see people violating that, that there’s an easy way to be able to report that, and bring people to justice. And I think sometimes what happens is, there’s infractions that’ll be identified or reported and then nothing ever happens. And I can tell ya, you know, the minute people think that there is going to be prosecutions, you’re going to see any impropriety in the future, that will dry up immediately.
Speaker 5: (13:50)
Governor, several public [inaudible 00:13:51] are being investigated for [inaudible 00:13:54], will they face crimes and [inaudible 00:13:56]
Governor Ron DeSantis: (13:57)
So I can’t, I can’t speak to the specifics cause I’m just not sure that’s being done by the agencies. But our law’s very clear. You know, we basically don’t want people to be discriminated against. We want them to be able to live their lives regardless of their status on, on getting these shots. And part of it is people that have recovered from COVID have strong protection. And there’s been the powers that be, have refused to acknowledge that, at the CDC and these other places, it’s totally devastated their credibility.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (14:27)
But we know people that have symptomatic COVID if you’re hospitalized and you recover, the chance of you ending up back in the hospital is incredibly, incredibly small. That’s just the reality. And so you have a lot of folks that are in that boat. And I think also, this is just should be a personal decision.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (14:43)
So that’s the law in Florida and people need to abide by the law in Florida. You know, you’ll look at some of these other places, what they’re doing. They’re creating a system where just your operation in normal society, is constantly requiring you to have to show different types of papers just to go in. And I object to that, period.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (15:04)
But then guess what’s going to happen? Then you’re going to be in a situation where, you may be fully vaccinated. Fauci says, you should go get a booster. So what? They’re going to say, you’re now unvaccinated, unless you get whatever they’re saying. And, obviously there was a lot of controversy over that because the White House was pushing this and they didn’t have the data to back it up. And the FDA didn’t ultimately go along with it. And the CDC basically came in and overruled that.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (15:29)
So you have all these things where, okay, what’s someone supposed to make of that? And so, we’re going to make sure people are able to make their own choices. We’re not going to discriminate against people based on those choices. And you’re going to have a right to operate in society.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (15:44)
I do think that we’ve been able to help save a lot of jobs, too. We worked with the folks in Gainesville, they were going to fire cops and firefighters, and utility workers based on this. And you shouldn’t lose your job over this. These are people that have been working on our behalf for the whole dang time. And now, all of a sudden they’re going to get tossed to the curb? And again, most of those folks, particularly those first responders have recovered from COVID over the last 18 months. And have gone through it, so it’s nuts that we would be allowing that to happen.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (16:18)
And so, we’ve helped work on that. Preserve the jobs in Gainesville. You know, we’ve supported the Orange County firefighters, and now it looks like they’re saying, we’re not going to fire anyone over it, which they shouldn’t.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (16:29)
We are, I believe that the department of health has issued findings for Leon County. They fired 14 Leon County employees, based on these shots. And again, these are people that presumably have been serving throughout this whole time. And now all of a sudden, they’re basically getting kicked to the curb. And so that violates state law. I think the issue is going to be now, looking at the private sector, Biden announces this mandate on private employers. What was that? That was like a month ago, six, a month ago. And it hasn’t been issued yet. And I think the reason it hasn’t been issued is because it’s a definite loser in court.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (17:11)
We’re prepared to contest that immediately. I know other states will do it as well. But you’re in a situation where you’re going to force … the businesses I talked to need employees. They want to hire. So now you’re in a situation where you may be forcing them to fire employees. Why would we want people to be out of jobs? It’s totally unacceptable. But I just think that what’s happening in the private sector, is I think some of these businesses are scared of the feds and they think that they need to do that.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (17:40)
And I think every worker, not just police and fire, but I think every worker should be protected from losing their jobs over this. This has become a political issue. Unfortunately, this has become about politicians wanting to control people. And why would you have someone … why would you want to see people lose their livelihoods? And the place where this is the most outrageous is with the hospital workers.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (18:04)
These are nurses that have been working this entire time. Again, most of them have probably already had COVID and recovered. And now they’re going to lose jobs, at a time when the healthcare system has been short-staffed for the last year. And we just went through a Delta wave, the hospitalizations, the admissions go up, what’s going to happen in the north?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (18:25)
You’re starting to see these cases rise. Unfortunately, I think you’re going to see a wave there. Are they going to just do this shorthanded, without those folks? So, I mean, I think that we need to, in Florida, we should be by providing protections. I think you need the legislature to pass a law. I don’t know that it can be done unilaterally through executive agencies, although we’ll look. But I think you need a law to be able to just say, you shouldn’t be terminated for this reason.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (18:52)
And I think that, that would put a lot of people, give them some peace of mind. There’s also people that you look … they, a lot of their … you have a certain class of people that are vaccinated. They took it, they wanted to do it, but they object to these mandates as well. And they believe that it should be their own choice, and they don’t want other people to be kind of coerced into doing it.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (19:11)
So I think the coercion is just totally wrong. I think it’s destroying trust in public health, to the extent that there was still trust left over after all the stuff that’s been done. But I think it’s really, really negative. And I think you’re going to end up driving people away who, if you were more reasonable and a little bit more, I think cooperative, they may have been, been willing to do it, but instead the minute you threaten, I think a lot of people just say, you know, forget about it.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (19:40)
So I think this whole thing has been really problematic, but my bottom line is this. Whether you’re working for the police department, the Sheriff’s department, the fire department, whether you’re working for a small business, a large business, I don’t think you should be fired over these shots. I just don’t. I think you need to be protected.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (20:03)
Well, we’ve got the gray, we got the guy right here. So go ahead, go ahead.
Speaker 7: (20:07)
Governor, I’ve got an unemployment question, and I’m not sure who would like to answer this-
Governor Ron DeSantis: (20:07)
Well, we’ve got the gray, we got the guy right here. So go ahead, go ahead.
Speaker 7: (20:07)
But we’re getting a lot of viewers who are getting collections as well as letters from state threatening because of overpayment. And we have one gentleman we’re talking to today, he’s actually paid it twice just to try and make it stop. So what can be done?
Dane Eagle: (20:20)
On that note, if you have the gentlemen get with me afterwards, we want to talk with them and try to figure it out. But on overpayments, we’re legally required to send those out. It’s state and federal law, but we understand the concern. Obviously it can be concerning if you received that in the mail. So under the Governor’s leadership, we’ve done a few things.
Dane Eagle: (20:32)
One we’ve suspended collections. That’s just not right. Legally. We do have to send them to collections, but we realize people are recovering from the pandemic. We’re not going to do that. So that’s been suspended through 2023, January one. We’re looking at doing that further. They also have appeal rights and they have waiver rights. So if these are federal benefits, they can go onto their connect account. We encourage them to log in and they should have access. They can apply for a waiver.
Dane Eagle: (20:53)
If it was not fraudulent, it was through no fault of their own. And they have a financial hardship. Then we can actually just forgive that, and they have no right to appeal it as well. We’ll have more comprehensive communications coming out that, on that later this week, my team’s working hard. Well, we understand the concerns and we’re answering for it. Thank you.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (21:08)
Okay. Well, yes?
Speaker 8: (21:12)
It was a brave thing for your wife to come forward. Can you just, without getting too personal, a quick update on how the first lady is doing and you hope it spurs other women to get checked out as well?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (21:21)
You know, I would say she is a very, very strong woman. And it’s not an easy thing when this happens, because it’s just, you know, your life is going, then all of a sudden this is something that, that puts that in the balance. And so it’s not been easy, just kind of, as we’ve had to deal with that as a family, obviously, particularly for her. But I think she’s basically come to the point of, okay, this is what I’m going to have to deal with. And, you know, we’ve been in and out of getting medical already, and she’s like the healthiest person in the whole hospital. I mean, so I think she, her view is, better me than somebody who may not be able to deal with it as way … as way I better, better me than God forbid other people , that are close to her.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (22:08)
And so that’s just kind of her. Her spirit, you know, I have faith, I got faith in the big guy upstairs and I’ve got faith in her. And, I know that, this is a bad break, but she’s got an awful lot to live for, for the rest of her life. And, we’ve got a lot of kids we’ve got to raise. And so, it’s tough, but I think she, what it can serve as, I think she just, wanted to be honest with people because she’s been, she has initiatives. I mean, and some of these things that she may not be able to do in the immediate future, that maybe she’ll pass the baton to me.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (22:46)
But she’s going to be back. So she just wanted people to kind of know that. But I do think that the lesson is, I mean, it wasn’t like she was in a lot of pain.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (22:54)
I mean, these screenings and the things that you go can really, really be life-saving. And so, I would just encourage folks, and not just women with breast cancer, but, but men who, there are certain things that, that were more susceptible to. Make sure that you go in and do that, when the physicians tell you to.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (23:12)
She just had a feeling she needed to do it. And so, so thank God that you know, that she did. But you know, we’ve got a road ahead. You know, our kids are young enough that they don’t really know what’s going on. You know, my mother is a breast cancer survivor. I was in elementary school. So I was older than our kids are now, but I can tell you, like, it’s a total blur to me.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (23:35)
I mean, I know I remember going to that, but I don’t remember any of the details about what it was even. I was just too young to appreciate it at the time. So our kids really have no concept of what’s going on. And, in some respects, that’s something that’ll hopefully not provide any type of a load on them, but she fights, she’s tough. And again, you know, just shows you the type of person she is.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (24:00)
I mean, she’s basically resigned that, you know, better that she has to go through it than others who may not be able to handle it as well. And that’s just, that’s why I love her. She’s an exceptional person. Thanks everybody.
Speaker 8: (24:12)
You saw the [inaudible 00:24:13] game last night?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (24:14)
I saw the end. Yeah. You know, it was like, I thought maybe we would have three world champions simultaneously. I don’t know if that’s ever happened. I mean, I know you may have had three, but that’s with having basketball too. We don’t have that here. So it was a little disappointing, but at the end of the day, we may get another super bowl. So Hey, if that’s going to happen, we’ll take it.
Speaker 9: (24:40)