Apr 8, 2020
Gov. Ron DeSantis Florida COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 8
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida held a press conference on coronavirus on April 8. He is ordering 1 million doses of controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for the state. Read the full transcript of his speech with full details.
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Ron DeSantis: (00:00)
… That means an awful lot to a lot of people right now. We’ve also worked with the Department of Elder Affairs and Florida’s worked with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association for meal delivery services for seniors. So typically they would do about 45,000 meals statewide, just here in Miami Dade they’re doing 50,000 meals, that’s in a daily basis. So we really appreciate what they’re doing to support our seniors. And obviously talking to the mayors here, I know they’ve done a lot to protect the senior populations and we want to keep doing all we can on that. The other major component to what we’ve been doing from the beginning is there was really a need to expand testing. When this started in February and early March, the testing was scarce, so we’ve worked really hard to expand that in the state of Florida. We will have probably by a … It may even be by now, we may have the results in, but certainly by probably the end of the day, we’ll have over 150,000 tests completed in the state of Florida.
Ron DeSantis: (01:02)
That will put us as one of the top states for testing. The state of Florida and the Florida National Guard have set up seven drive through testing sites, many of them in Southeast Florida so that individuals could go through, get tested, and know whether they’re positive or not. And that’s important, and those drive through sites are important. Getting tested at the hospitals has been important too. But the way these labs have worked, sometimes it takes days to be able to get the results. And so if you’re somebody who is a healthcare worker, you kind of need to know right now whether you’re positive. If you’re a senior in a nursing home and you’re in a hospital with symptoms and they test you but they don’t have results, well, are they going to put you back in the nursing home? Are they going to keep you in the hospital?
Ron DeSantis: (01:47)
So understanding who is positive quickly is important. So we were able to work in with the white house, get a number of this new Abbott labs tests delivered in the state of Florida over the last week to many of the hospital systems here. This is a rapid test where you would go and you get a positive result in five minutes. And so that is huge if you’re talking about protecting the healthcare workforce, if you’re talking about conserving hospital space, talking about protecting seniors. So right now the hospitals that haven’t had them, we’ve worked with the hospitals that do and asked if they would shift resources. So I know Cleveland Clinic has shifted some of these machines to Jackson in Miami. I spoke with Mayor Gelber about the hospital here. We’re going to work with getting them access to this rapid test because I think it just improves outcomes and improves our ability to handle this so well.
Ron DeSantis: (02:43)
The Florida Department of Health also has had a number of these machines delivered and so those are going to be deployed strategically in areas where you have a lot of cases, but I’ve also ordered them to create mobile strike teams to be able to take this and do spot checks at nursing homes and assisted living facilities to see if this is spreading in those facilities to see if staff has them. You don’t even need to test everyone. If you get representative samples, then you could see if it’s there, then you really go and do more. So I think that this is something that will be game changing for us going forward and it’s been a very, very top priority for us. The third priority is one of the reasons why we’re here today. We want to protect our healthcare workers who are on the front line and we want to make sure that the healthcare system can absorb what this virus is pretending for our communities.
Ron DeSantis: (03:37)
I’m pleased with Jared Moscowitz’s leadership, who’s here heading our department of emergency management. You know, this has been the biggest logistics operation in the history of the state. The state has distributed over three million masks, both N95 and surgical masks, almost 225,000 face shields, 4.2 million gloves and 185,000 gowns. And we have more on the way and we’re fighting to get more particularly of the N95 masks. So I want to thank Jared for all he’s done to be able to get the key supplies. And we’ve spoken with the mayors here, I think what they’re doing in terms of the beach or if you’re in the grocery store wearing some type of face covering, I think that’s really smart. The grocery stores are packed and when you have close contact, that’s when this virus is most likely to be transmitted.
Ron DeSantis: (04:29)
So having the mask I think could absolutely cut down on the transmissibility of this. And I think that’s a very important precaution. So we’re going to work to be able to, to give them some more mask. And I think that that’s very, very appropriate. So here at the convention center, we’ve been working with the Army Corps of Engineers over the last several weeks. As many of you know, when this launched with the 15 days to stop the spread and other initiatives that were done in South Florida and statewide, people would talk about flattening the curve so that the hospital system could cope with the patients who were impacted by this illness. And so from the very beginning, we looked strategically around the state and made plans to be able to expand hospital capacity. And so that’s one of the things that we’re going to be doing here today.
Ron DeSantis: (05:21)
This facility, in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers, will open with 400 beds and 50 ICU beds for a total of 450 beds. The hospital will cover 500,000 square feet. We’ll be able to scale up to 1,000 beds if the need is there. In addition to contract staff of doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, and other medical personnel, the facility will be staffed by 184 members of Florida’s National Guard medical team as follows. 10 physicians, 19 physician assistants, five case managers, five social workers, 25 medical clerks, 25 housekeepers, a patient transporter, 25 EMT technicians, two medical assistants, 50 paramedics, 16 registered nurses, and one licensed infection preventionist. So this will provide a lot of resources should the need arise to be able to care for patients. And this is going to be a facility that will accept the COVID patients.
Ron DeSantis: (06:27)
Some of the overflow that’s been done in other parts of the country, initially they wanted it for non-COVID. This is for COVID. So if somebody has it, this facility is going to be able to accommodate that. And I think that that’s something very important. So this partnership with the corps we think is very important. We thank them for their efforts. Of course we work with them on things like Lake Okeechobee anyways, but I want to thank them and General Seminate for his leadership and for them really stepping up to the plate. This, though, is only one part of the plan to have additional capacity in addition to the beds here in the convention center, we’re setting up 200 beds at the old Pan American Hospital and 250 beds at a field hospital right here in Miami, and those will be beds that are manned with medical professionals that the state of Florida has contracted with. So you’re not going to have to deplete resources from the hospital systems here in Miami Dade County. This is supplementing what’s already there, but it’s not taking from what’s already there.
Ron DeSantis: (07:34)
Outside of Miami, we have an additional four field hospitals as the need may be. We have one that’s ready in Broward, another one that can be stood up very quickly in Palm Beach. And then we’re also looking where on the West coast of Florida and potentially Northeast Florida. But we have ready to be deployed, 4,300 hospital beds and almost 100 … Actually more than 150 ICU beds, a 451 nurses, 15 nurse practitioners, and 14 doctors. They’re under contract, they’re standing by, and they’re ready to deploy. So that is why I would much rather be prepared for the worst and the worst, not come here than not be prepared. And so what you’re seeing here today is the state of Florida, the Army Corps of Engineers, Miami Dade County, Miami Beach, doing all we can to be fully prepared.
Ron DeSantis: (08:28)
Again, these plans have been laid for quite some time. Finally, just an overview of what we’re looking at in terms of hospital capacity in Florida. Right now, the availability statewide is 43%. Miami Dade is 43%, Broward is almost 46%, Palm beach 49%, Hillsborough 41%, Orange 44%, and Duvall 47%. so we have capacity at the hospitals. We don’t know what a surge may bring, but we have to prepare for that so that we’re able to take care of people. So I think that this is the smart thing to do. I think it’s the responsible thing to do. And I’m really glad to have the army Corps of engineers with us and so I’d like to be able to introduce Lieutenant General Todd Seminate. I want to thank you for your friendship and your support and for your leadership.
Todd Seminate: (09:21)
Well listen, governor, to you and the other senior leaders here, I can’t think of a better team to be able to be partnered up with and to be able to do such an important thing. You mentioned a little bit about the Corps of engineers. We’ve been working in Florida for almost a hundred years. Disaster response, Everglades restoration, [inaudible 00:09:36] nourishment, but I can’t think of a more noble tasks and saving the lives of the Floridians that have been infected by this virus, and just the thoughts and prayers of all of us in the corps, in the federal government go out to all of those people and especially the real heroes, the people that are on the front lines and nurses and the doctors and this ability to be able to bring this facility on to be able to help mitigate this is going to be instrumental. And this really is a team effort.
Todd Seminate: (09:58)
Today the Corps of Engineers is working for that man right there, the governor. Okay? And we’re going to work side by side with the mayors, with the city leadership, the state leadership, the National Guard, obviously the medical communities. We are here basically on behalf of FEMA to be able to help out. But let there be no doubt as to where our loyalty is. When the governor decides how they want to do this and what their plan is, we need to be able to put this in the ground to be able to make sure that we’re meeting that requirement.
Todd Seminate: (10:24)
We developed about three weeks ago, what I would call a very, very standardized plan. We went to all the experts and we said, “What are the medical requirements? How do we do this to code? How do we do this? Is it COVID, non-COVID? Do we do it in a convention center? What’s negative pressure?” And over the last three weeks, we are in the process right now building 17 different facilities, about 15,000 beds that we’re putting in the ground right now. Here’s the message, though, is that we’ve just finished New York, just finished Detroit, and just finished Chicago, and governor, we have learned a lot of things by building those facilities. So this facility that we’re building out, we’ve migrated a lot of those lessons learned. What’s the-
General Semonite: (11:03)
… Or building out. We’ve migrated a lot of those lessons learned. What’s the best way to run a nurse’s station? How do you do patient discharge? How do you work all these things? And we’ve integrated those back in and to be able to make sure there we’re leaning forward. The governor talked about 400 and then the 50 ICUs, but there’s a lot of other supporting requirements. What do you do for showers? There’s not a lot of showers in the convention center, so how do we bring those back in? What do we do for oxygen? How do you be able to run where there’s patient receiving and inpatient discharge? PPE transition. Every time a nurse walks out to take a break, how do you make sure they’re going through the right protected areas to be able to drop that off? And then those things go away so they’re aren’t hurting anything else.
General Semonite: (11:43)
And that’s what this whole facility’s going to be able to provide. And I think the last thing I’ll tell you is that we’re very, very excited to work with this great team. Jared, you and your crew are been phenomenal already and there’s a Colonel over there, right there, Colonel Drew Kelly who works for me, he’s the Jacksonville district. That Colonel and everybody in Jacksonville is a hundred percent focused and we got a lot of tasks right now, but that Colonel’s focused on getting this done. This is a hard build. This is probably a three week build. We don’t have three weeks. The governor just sat with me in a trailer behind us and said, “You’ve got till about the night of the 20th of April.” So this not design it and build it as you’d like. It’s here’s the suspense, get it done, and wherever there is a problem in the way everybody focused on that particular obstacle, whether it’s local, state, city officials to try to figure out how do I work our way through this, how do we mitigate this?
General Semonite: (12:35)
How do we get a solution that is not the perfect solution, but it sure is the mission essential solution so we make sure that when the first patient needs to show up, there’s a bed that’s able to do it. So governor and the mayors here, you have my personal commitment and everybody in the Corps of Engineers, and this is not Jacksonville only. We will fly whatever we need to do from the United States all around our whole domain in here to be able to get this done on time because I think what you have got with a vision right here is you’ve got the capacity and you’ve got the plan. We’re just proud to be part of your team. I think with that, I’m going to pass over to Miami Dade County Mayor.
Carlos Gimenez: (13:12)
Thank you general. Appreciate it. And governor, thank you. Thank you for all the support you’ve given us here in Miami Dade County. And this is a great example of the cooperation between the federal, state, county, municipal governments. What’s being constructed here is a 450 bed facility, temporary hospital that we hope never to use, but have to have it just in case that we do need it, it will be here for our residents. And again, I can’t stress enough my gratitude to you, Governor DeSantis, for all the support you’ve given us here in Miami Dade County. Again, I can’t express my gratitude enough, General Semonite, again for what you’re doing and Mayor Gelber, thank you for allowing us to use your facility. The state called and said … actually, the Army Corps called us and said, “Do you have a 500,000 square foot facility somewhere in Miami Dade County?”
Carlos Gimenez: (14:10)
Yeah, we do actually, but there’s only one 500,000 square foot facility that we know of and that’s in the city of Miami Beach and that’s the Convention Center and thank you for using this. Again, this is a facility we hope never to use, but we have to prepare for the worst. We don’t know. There’s a surge supposedly that’s coming. The good news is, as the governor said, we have plenty of capacity right now in Miami Dade County, we have plenty of hospital beds, we have plenty of ICU beds. We have plenty of ventilators for what we think is going to come, but again, if something above what we think comes happens, then this facility will be great.
Carlos Gimenez: (14:48)
The additional beds at the Pan American Hospital are also going to be a great backstop. And there’s another 250 beds that are at the Tamiami Youth Fairgrounds that’s already up and running that can be used for the same purpose. So we have a lot of capacity, we hope we never need to use it. But again, thank you and a great cooperation between the federal, state, local, local governments on this effort. I’m going to say a couple of words in Spanish. I know, you’re saying Spanish, por favor. Okay.
Carlos Gimenez: (17:39)
[foreign language 00:04: 26].
Carlos Gimenez: (17:42)
And now I’m going to turn it over to the Mayor of the City of Miami Beach, my good friend, Dan Gelder.
Mayor Dan Gelder: (17:48)
Thank you. Gracias. First, I want to acknowledge every morning my commission meets on the phone with our city managers. Some of them are here today. Commissioner Samlyn and Commissioner Gangora, Commissioner Richardson. On the phone is County Commissioner Higgins is on with us. Well, we’re talking to our city manager, trying to coordinate what we do here. Multiple times a day it feels like I’m either calling or texting with Mayor Jimenez as he’s asking what we need and to talk about some of these issues. And I even regularly hear from our governor, Governor DeSantis to our little city here and Jared also who calls just to see what we need. So thank you for reaching out. Thank you for caring about us and thank you for reminding everybody that we are all in this together. We’re leaning into this and it’s just like these masks, you wear them to help somebody else, and when everybody wears them, everybody is elevated and healthier, so thank you.
Mayor Dan Gelder: (18:38)
If there is a city in America not built for social distancing, you are in it. We want people to come here, to dance at their weddings, to embrace on their honeymoons, to visit our beaches, our promenades like Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive, our parks. We want them to go to our venues and our bars and we want them to come here to this convention center where they come to the biggest art show in the world and walk around together experiencing something fantastic or to the Superbowl experience where families and friends sit around and root for their favorite team. But things are different right now. Things are much different and just as we have to be great at all of that, we have to be great at this. Our city has adopted every CDC guideline each time it’s been enacted as an emergency order.
Mayor Dan Gelder: (19:27)
We want to lean into this and that’s why we’re frankly part of this with you and we know you’re going to take over our convention center. It wasn’t really a question. Obviously you need to do it. We find a way. We’re resourceful. We’re going to convert a convention center into a hospital in a couple of weeks. That’s something quite amazing, but frankly it’s for the entire community, including ours. We find a way, this is pride week, by the way. We would’ve had our pride festival this week. Tens of thousands of people would be on Ocean Drive, so we made some masks that reflect that. We find a way to express who we are and to lean into this. So for us, I just want you to know we are grateful that we all have this comradery and unity of purpose.
Mayor Dan Gelder: (20:12)
And although I agree, we hope that this isn’t going to be used. We pray that it’s not used, but we’ve got to still plan. And so we are planning for the worst and we’re praying for the best and we will be ready. And we couldn’t be ready if all of us weren’t working together, and most importantly, our residents weren’t accepting the fact that this is something real and they need to lean into all of these countermeasures and all of these actions we’re doing. So I appreciate everybody who’s here, but I mostly appreciate the residents who have decided that this is important enough for them to change what they do every single day to make sure that a neighbor or someone they don’t know is safe. So, thank you all.
Ron DeSantis: (20:57)
Great. Anyone have questions for anyone?
Ron DeSantis: (21:04)
Yeah, so we don’t want the [inaudible 00:21:05]. So social distancing is important. Some people don’t have access online. Obviously the website was having problems. We’ve put a lot of servers in. Sunday I think they did 62,000, then it started to go a little slower yesterday. So they’re working on that and they’re going to continue to do it. But for people that don’t have access to the internet or just are having a tough time, we want there to be options. Now, I told the folks in Hialeah, if they’re going to come, hand it out when they’re coming in the car, do a drive through. Just do it in a way that’s not going to create crowds. I mean, right now, we have a respiratory virus that is transmitted when you have close, usually close, sustained contact with somebody. And if you refrain from that, and my orders for state, and I know the mayor here has had this for a while, I mean, is to minimize contacts outside the household. And so that’s what you got to be trying to do. So I know that they’re going to try to do something where they hand them out to people …
Ron DeSantis: (22:03)
… I know that they’re going to try to do some with, where they hand them out to people coming in their cars, and then we have a deal with FedEx. FedEx is going to print them, people can grab them, FedEx will mail them back later that day. We want that to be an option. I have 2,000 state employees identified, who aren’t a part of unemployment, who are in these other agencies that were surging in, so as these applications come in, they got to process them. We’re putting forth an effort for this that we’ve never really done on a thing like this in the state of Florida before. But I think it’s important because of the shock that so many people felt.
Ron DeSantis: (22:37)
Things were going along great. I remember when this, when all this really started really getting heavy in March, the unemployment was 2.8%. I remember looking at the report, thinking, “Man, those were the days,” and that was going to change. You have so many people that had jobs, through no fault of their own, now they’re furloughed. Some have already been fired. There’s other places where maybe they pay you for a little bit, but some of them aren’t going to keep doing that. I think it’s really, really important for folks to be able to have access to that.
Ron DeSantis: (23:08)
But don’t violate the social distancing. If you stick to the plan here, you’re going to be able to come back to work much quicker on the back end.
Carlos Gimenez: (23:22)
Governor, if I could, I need to clarify something on that question. Miami Dade opened up 26 libraries today in order to do exactly what they did in the city of Hialeah, but we have been working for a week with the state governor, with the governor and the state of Florida, on opening these sites. Our sites are a lot different. There’s 26 of them. Everybody has got to practice social distancing. You’ll see it see a lot different operation from Miami Dade County.
Speaker 3: (23:51)
Governor DeSantis, when are they going to get [inaudible 00:23:54] benefits? From the moment they were laid off or the moment they could file?
Ron DeSantis: (23:58)
I mean, the law is when you can file, but what I’ve told Ken Lawson is, if someone was trying to apply on, what, last Wednesday and the system wasn’t really working, then I think you should count that as the day. He’s looking at how that will work. But I mean I think that that’s a reasonable accommodation if the system, because when this all happened, I told the DEO, I said, “Look, you know there’s going to be a surge, hire more people in the call center, do all that.” They were like, “Yeah, we’ll do it. But just tell people it’s easier for them to go to the website.” They were telling people to go to this thing and then it reached capacity, and so that is something that I don’t think is their fault.
Speaker 4: (24:38)
Mayor Gimenez, what are the [inaudible 00:24:40] question for the county. The governor talked about facial coverings, Miami Beach is doing it. Why hasn’t the county ordered pharmacies, supermarkets and restaurants to do the same thing?
Carlos Gimenez: (24:50)
It’s something we’re going to be discussing today at my staff meeting, and there are some concerns from some of our attorneys on issuing such an order. I’ve got to get to the bottom it. If we can resolve it, then I may be issuing that kind of an order. I will say though, I’ve seen a lot of compliance with our recommendation that everybody wear facial covering when they’re inside some kind of a confined space.
Speaker 5: (25:16)
What’s the target date for building a field hospital here, Governor?
Ron DeSantis: (25:18)
The field hospital is, the one in Miami’s up. That’s up. Yeah, and then this one, well, we told them by April 20th. Normally that’s a pretty tough schedule, but I think they’re going to do it and then they’ll probably exceed it.
Ron DeSantis: (25:34)
Look, these things are all being revised about when this or when that, I mean, so what we basically said is, look, “We’re going to plan for kind of the worst case. Do that.” But I mean if you look at how the cases have been going and the new hospitalizations, clearly there’s capacity right now to handle what’s happening. Absent a major change, capacity’s there. We don’t know what kind of change will be. We don’t know. That’s why they’re doing it. That’ll be there. That basically, I think, coincides with when people think, well, some of these things think Florida may hit the peak. You hear different things, but I just think we need to be ready and that’s what this will do.
Speaker 6: (26:14)
[inaudible 00:26:14] lowest unemployment benefits among the 50 states.
Ron DeSantis: (26:23)
Well, so our unemployment benefits, as you know, is set by law. What I told our folks is we need to get that out. I want the people that are applying to get their benefits as soon as possible because these federal benefits, they’re not going to be here tomorrow. I mean, that’s just the way it is.
Ron DeSantis: (26:40)
I think that the Feds are working hard to be able to get this money. I know I’ve been working with Senator Rubio on these small business loans. They’ve actually gotten that out and even though there’s been some complications to it for government work, I mean, it’s amazing that they’ve been able to get that many out. I’ve said, “Get the money out at the state level,” and then we really want to help and prod the Feds to get their share. The Fed share, obviously, is going to be more significant than what we currently have in Florida law; but whatever we have in Florida law, we obviously want to be able to give to folks.
Speaker 7: (27:12)
[Spanish 00: 05:18].
Carlos Gimenez: (27:36)
Speaker 7: (27:43)
Carlos Gimenez: (27:57)
[Spanish 00:05: 41].
Ron DeSantis: (28:03)
I’ll take it too, but let me just make a point because we were talking with both the mayors and I’ve been talking with other folks throughout the state and actually people in the White House about, okay, obviously, we’ve got to get through this, but we’d be foolish not to plan and say, “What does it look like once we think that the cases are declining in terms of how we interact and how the economy works?” It seems to me that, standing here today, we have a huge, huge array of options compared to where we were just three or four weeks ago in terms of, for example, you go back four weeks, I mean, it was hard to find even a swab to test somebody for this. Now we have this five-minute test that’s available.
Ron DeSantis: (28:45)
You look at how Florida, I mean, we’ve had some of the areas that have been more hotspots, I think have been connected to cruise ships. Obviously, we have people coming from all over the world all the time. I would like to see these rapid tests integrated with some of the international travel. If you’re coming from like a Brazil or coming from these other places, it’d be good to have that, those tests available and done so that as people come to Florida, we know that people aren’t necessarily carrying the virus.
Ron DeSantis: (29:13)
I mean, we’re going through a lot here. Miami’s gone through a lot here. Other parts of Florida have gone through a lot here. We’ve had a lot of deaths, dislocation economically, we’re trying to mitigate that and we’re going to try to bounce back from it. But you know, to go through all that and then just have people coming internationally or even domestically and seeding it all over again I think is a problem. I think we need to be thinking, I’m going to talk to the president about this, the fact of the matter is airplanes are what brought the virus to the United States. We’ve got to think smart about this, but I think we want to have people be able to function as a society. But I think there’s ways that we can now do that much smarter. But the travel I think is something that we’re really going to have to build in some protections for.
Speaker 8: (30:02)
Governor, the state has calls for transparency. Why hasn’t the state put out more information on nursing homes [inaudible 00:30:06].
Ron DeSantis: (30:07)
We do. I mean, so first of all, if you look at the report that the State Department of Health puts out, I challenge you to find another state that’s even close with transparency. We have a dash-, excuse me, we have a dashboard that’s up. You see in real time as the case has come in. When our numbers come in, those are fresh. Some of these other States, those are 48-hours old and so we’re doing it fresh. We now have it broken out that you have it broken out by age, you have the number of cases, positive cases, listed in any nursing home or assisted-living facility by county. Because people had questions in terms of race and ethnicity, so we’re now breaking out by race or ethnicity. Don’t have it for every patient, but the ones we do, we’re putting it there.
Ron DeSantis: (30:51)
Then we’re also, with University of Florida and Shands, we’re supporting with our supplies kind of an investigation into some of the public-housing communities. It’s going to be in Jacksonville, primarily African American, to figure out underserved populations, where they may be not getting what they need. Now we have drive-through testing centers. It’s open for everyone, but maybe the message hasn’t, so we’re looking at that. We’re doing some other random testing to try to figure out how many people are asymptomatic that may have it. We’re doing a lot. All that and every daily report, the number of people, either staff or somebody who lives in assisted-living is listed by county, the numbers.
Ron DeSantis: (31:34)
Now it’s also important to keep in mind, a nursing home is going to be a different environment than some of the independent living. Some of the independent living is, yeah, it’s like living in an apartment. People can come and go. We have tried to do restrictions there, but actually, people are going to be able to make, the nursing home you have an ability to control access and as I mentioned with the Abbott Labs test, I’ve told the department of health, I want you to harness that ability to test quickly and do these checks in some of those facilities. They’re working on that, but I told them to deploy that as soon as possible.
Speaker 9: (32:08)
Mayor Gimenez, you clearly mentioned that there is a projection for Miami Dade County because you do not think that our hospital needs or hospital capacity will be exceeded. The White House has released projections, what are the projections you have seen?
Carlos Gimenez: (32:21)
now this is based on what I’ve seen. This is not about a projection. What I’ve seen, because we keep tabs on that, is that this is not exponential. This is not growing exponentially. It’s growing linearly. Unless there is some exponential growth that I haven’t seen, all right, then the capacity that we have in our hospitals should be sufficient. But some people, some models show an exponential growth. We have to prepare for the exponential growth, but what I’ve seen right now is a linear growth. I haven’t seen a steep linear growth. I’ve seen a gradual linear growth in the number of cases. There are people leaving the hospital that had COVID-19, and there’s a number that’s coming in. The difference, that delta-
Speaker 10: (33:03)
[crosstalk 00:33:00] and there’s a number that’s coming in. The difference that Delta isn’t a large number it isn’t like this, there’s a steady growth, but not something of which I would say was alarming at this point. That could change tomorrow.
Governor DeSantis: (33:13)
But the thing I, what I would say too, if you look, I mean we have expanded testing more here than just about anywhere. There are states that have more positive test results than Florida, and we have three or four times as many of negative test results than they do. So, we’re just doing a much bigger pool. Some of them have very, I mean, you look at Michigan, Louisiana, some of them, they just haven’t tested overall, even though they have more positives than us, they have way fewer negatives. So, that is something to do, but here is how we do it because you hear someone will report somebody saying this, or some model says this. We look at the data every day throughout the day as it’s coming in.
Governor DeSantis: (33:55)
So, just day over day here in the state of Florida, the number of new hospitalizations for COVID 19 was negative 44, Miami Dade, negative 30, Broward negative two, Palm beach negative one, Hillsborough four positive, Orange negative two, Duvall positive two. So, we’re looking at that and seeing how that is changing. The positive cases are important, but Miami has gotten, there’s a lot of people have tested positive here who are not in the real danger age groups. I mean these are people who are under 55, a lot of them don’t have health problems. Those are people, they’re positive, they isolate. A lot of them are fine. Some other parts of the country, it’s more disproportionately on some of the danger groups. And so that’s another thing that you look at, but you really follow that hospitalization, and see how that’s moving.
Governor DeSantis: (34:45)
That’s not only important for the space here, and keeping the hospital situation under control, it also kind of gives us an indication of which direction we’re going in the state of Florida. And then I would also just say we have a very big diverse state. I mean, if you look at the cases throughout the state, we have about 60% are in just the three Southeast Florida counties, Broward, Miami Dade, and Palm Beach. We’ve obviously diverted the vast majority of our resources to those three counties from the state because of that fact.
Governor DeSantis: (35:14)
And so we watch those counties, and then there’s other counties where you have very, very slow linear growth. And so again, you’re looking at hospital capacity. That’s something that if that trend were to continue is not going to put some of those other areas in huge jeopardy, but we watch it every day. And if we see anything that changes big time, then we obviously have contingencies for all over the state. But I think Southeast Florida is really the one part of Florida, that we’ve been most concerned about. But even with all the things we’re doing, as the mayor said, we’re watching what’s going on in Miami Dade, and there is still capacity here, which is good news. [crosstalk 00:35:52].
Speaker 11: (35:52)
How does the state deal with protective gear gifts [inaudible 00:36:00]
Governor DeSantis: (36:00)
So, the state, so I’ll let Jared speak to what we’ve distributed for protective gear and we, like I said, they distributed over 3 million masks. I think that the biggest problem, I think, that that has had is these N95 masks, Jared ordered millions of those early March, they would be delivered, supposedly, we’d show up, they didn’t go. And then this, so there’s a lot of stuff on the secondary market. I’ve talked with the head of 3M, we’re still working through that. But I think at these hospital numbers there is a need for PPE, as it surges. Most of the folks we’ve talked to have said they do have what they need now for this, but we’re very sensitive to the PPE. That’s one of the reasons I suspended the elective surgeries. Part of it was to have more room in the hospitals, but quite frankly given the hospital numbers, we were probably okay there. We just didn’t want PPE being burned. So, we’ve done a lot to really conserve that. And Jared’s been really great, and fighting for that. So, you want to tell about what we’ve done?
Sure, Governor, thank you. The governor has laid all the numbers that have moved out of the warehouse. We’re running a 24 hour operations, all of the 67 counties have their staging areas stood up. I want to thank the general, the guard, the guards helping us run that warehouse. I mean, just yesterday we did another 300,000 masks out of the warehouse. And so listen, I’ve been well on the record of the issue with 3M, and the masks. I think you saw results come out of that. The president announced yesterday, two days ago now, that we’re going to get 55 million more masks a month, out of 3M over the next three months. The FDA also changed their guidelines now allowing the KN95 to be used in certain circumstances. So, we have millions of surgical masks on order, millions of KN95’s on order, and millions of N95’s on order.
And they’re just coming in, in different batches. And so as they come in, they do not sit. They immediately go out and we are focusing obviously on hospitals, first responders, and nursing homes. I mean, the Miami Herald wrote an article specifically showing what’s going on in that space. We had over 600 million worth of PO’s that I personally signed that nothing could get delivered. And that’s not just happening here. It’s happening all over the country. It’s why you’ve seen, even in California, the governor talking about putting a consortium together because where everyone’s competing against each other. I mean we are competing against everybody but Antarctica for masks, and so we’re going to continue to do that at the division. It’s our main focus in addition to getting these facilities up is that PPE. We know it’s life saving stuff. We want to make sure that we’re taking care of our heroes, our doctors, our nurses, our hospital workers, everybody on the front lines. Governor, thank you.
Speaker 10: (38:35)
And I’m in contact every day with the white house about the PPE. I think the president correctly said the states just, if you can buy it, buy it, it’s quicker to do that, then we’ll reimburse you. And that’s really what we’ve done. But I think the way the market has evolved. The federal government probably has an easier time at this point. So, we’re in constant contact, and I think we would be able to get more N95’s through FEMA at the appropriate time. They understand where we’re going. We’re very transparent about how we’re handling things and where the numbers are going. And so they’re monitoring that on a daily basis. I mean, obviously they’ve been doing that with ventilators. I think we’ve seen a change in demand for ventilators nationwide, but I think these N95 masks are still going to be very, very important.
Speaker 11: (39:28)
Governor, are you [crosstalk 00:39:29]
Speaker 12: (39:30)
Thank you very much, Governor for joining us [crosstalk 00:39:33] We must conclude the news conference.
Governor DeSantis: (39:31)
Speaker 13: (39:31)
Let us know what else we can do.
I appreciate it [crosstalk 00:39:44] (silence) [inaudible 00:42:25]