Apr 6, 2020

Ron DeSantis Florida COVID-19 Briefing April 6

Ron DeSantis Update Covid April 6
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsRon DeSantis Florida COVID-19 Briefing April 6

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida held a press briefing on coronavirus on April 6, 2020. He addressed issues with Florida’s unemployment site. Read the full transcript of his update speech.

 

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Governor Ron DeSantis: (00:00)
… with them, their plans for these upcoming events, both Passover and Easter, and our message is basically adhere to social distancing guidelines. I think what a lot of churches have done in terms of online services, some have even done outdoors where people just stay in their car, I think that they’ve been innovative, and I think that that’ll ultimately be something that matters a lot to people. But we also pointed out the risk of having a packed gathering right now given what we’re going through. In fact, you look at different parts around the country, there’ve been different events such as … I was talking to the Georgia governor. They had a big funeral, and that really spread throughout the folks there, so it would be a potential to have a super-spreader, and that would eventually have really serious health consequences to folks, so we want people during this time to be spiritually together, but to remain socially distant. Please keep God close, but please keep COVID-19 away, and we appreciate all the cooperation that we’ve had with people throughout the state of Florida.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:16)
As many of you know, this virus has rocked the economic foundations of our state and our country. An unprecedented number of Floridians have been seeking help through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Reemployment Assistance Program. From August of 2018 to February 2020 the contact center took a total of 2.3 million calls. DEO received 3.8 million calls just last week. That dramatic increase in call volume has prevented people from being able to connect to DEO, and then the flood to the website, the website couldn’t even handle it, so we are in a situation where people have lost their jobs, they’re looking for relief, and they’re having a lot of difficulty. Some people were on the site, it was timing out. You’d go hours and hours upon end, and it was just totally unacceptable. If you have a single mother who no longer has a job, she’s got to worry about how the rent’s going to be paid, how food is going to be put on the table, and we want this system to be accessible to people so that they have a way to do it, and it’s responsive. We needed to change this.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (02:29)
Last week I directed even more resources, all-hands-on-deck approach, to be able to get this in the right direction. Over the last part of last week in through the weekend, we’ve had employees from DEO and DMS working around the clock to be able to make progress. The major problem with the website … I mean, there’s problems with how it’s designed. That’s been pointed out, but that’s not really the problem that we face. We just faced a capacity issue, so I had DEO and DMS bring in 72 new servers. They had to go in the middle of the night, bring them up from Orlando, to put it in to increase capacity for the website. The system can now handle up to 120,000 simultaneous connections by individuals filing claims. Recently we’ve been in the 40 to 60,000 connection range. Before these servers, that was causing huge stress. The website actually would be down more than half the time. It would take seven seconds just to connect through. That may have been okay in 1996, but not in 2020, so the capacity has improved.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (03:47)
Then when the system was designed, you usually build in redundancies to these things, and so there was a redundancy built in so that if the system went down, the backup would take hold and people could still use it. Well, turns out that that redundancy, the backup, was never actually connected to the system, so last night they were able to actually connect the backup to the system, and so that also gives an added protection. Over 62,000 people filed claims last night by 10:00 p.m. when the site went down for maintenance. The previous week, that was just 17,000, and yes, the demand’s probably gone up, but the reason there was only 17,000 is because people were having a tough time getting on. The site was down more than it was even up at given times, and so the fact that that’s been able to increase … They used to have, the latency on the website, used to be as high as 72 seconds. Now it’s less than one second, and it’s been up consistently, which is what we want to do.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (04:53)
That’s been a huge effort to do that, to build the capacity. I’ve actually told them, “Look, it’s being able to handle it now, but you don’t know what’s going to happen,” so we’re getting even more servers in just to make sure that if we see an even bigger surge than we’ve already had that the website is able to handle it. We also had people working through the weekend to train hundreds of additional customer service reps so that when people call in they’re able to get ahold of somebody.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (05:27)
They used to take three weeks to train somebody to be in the call center, and I said, “What good is that going to do, three weeks? I mean, people need to get this thing done now,” so the training was done this weekend, and so you’re going to be seeing more and more people there. 250 people additionally started this morning at 7:30. DEO is training an additional 500 people today. They will start taking calls tomorrow. That’s 750, and then we may increase even more from there. Then this is in addition, DEO had previously added additional 59 individuals that are already in place, so the capacity there is increasing. Again, my instructions are, as these calls are coming in, if you have to add more capacity, you’ve got to do it, so we’ve been in contact with both some of the state agencies as well as some of the private … as companies about if that’s necessary, how do you do it? But they need to be ready to move on that. We also, in my executive order last week, I ordered all the state agencies to pony up people to be able to help with this. Many of these folks have been working for home for weeks now. Some of them are considered nonessential and are basically have been told to stay at home, but we need all hands on deck now, so our agencies, and obviously DOH, some of the ones that are really involved on the health component of this are not going to be expected to produce employees, but most of the other agencies did. We’ve identified over 2,000 employees in state government that can step up to help the unemployment compensation claims. I want to thank them for their willingness to serve their fellow Floridians in a time of need.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (07:15)
We are in the process of setting up a virtual desktop for remote state employees by tomorrow. This virtual desktop will allow state employees to take phone calls and do data entry with the CONNECT system, and as the week goes on, we will determine the exact number of state employees we will need to ensure Floridians are receiving the best service possible. Obviously, you need to have an interaction with the user on the front end, whether it’s a phone call, whether it’s a website, but then you need to have it processed, and the data needs to be there. I mean, there’s certain requirements of the law, Social Security number, driver’s license, certainly federal requirements. We’ve got to get that done, and then move the checks, or the direct deposit, whatever it may be, forward. I also instructed DEO to create a paper application. Given this time, not everyone has access to internet. A lot of the libraries are closed. It’s not always easy, so we want them to be able to have access to a paper application where then they could send in, and then our folks who we’ve now brought on board will be able to process that here in Tallahassee. CareerSource Florida is helping make sure paper applications are available throughout the state. DEO is also working with local governments and the private sector to find locations where people can pick up the application. This morning, I spoke to Fred Smith from FedEx, great guy, and I asked him could we use the FedEx office locations, or you guys could print the forms, have them ready for people, people could fill them out, and then you guys could just FedEx them every night to Tallahassee, and he said they’d be happy to help with that, so we’re in the process of working on that, putting that together as well.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (08:58)
Now obviously, if the website’s functioning, that is going to take off pressure from the paper applications, but still we think it’s important under these circumstances for people to be able to have that. We’re also working with different leaders throughout the state. I know Mayor Giménez in Miami-Dade is thinking about having library access for unemployment compensation, so we obviously encourage folks to be innovative with this. I’ve also asked DEO, and they are doing this, to streamline and increase the number of employees assigned to the application verification process so that the payments can be expedited. Of the 2,000 state employees stepping up, the Department of Revenue, and we have the commissioner here, has offered 518 employees that will be able to help verify employer and wage data. As a result of this effort, DEO has told me that they think they can process 80,000 claims this week. Before now, the average number of claims per week processed by the agency was 6,000. Now granted …

Governor Ron DeSantis: (10:03)
… by the agency was 6,000. Now, granted, they didn’t necessarily have a lot of claims at the beginning of this year, but this will be a huge increase over just the last couple of weeks when you did have more demands. So we think that that’s something that is pertinent, and that will make a difference. But at the end of the day, what I’ve told all these folks is this: We’re in an unprecedented situation. You look at any other economic dip that we’ve had, some of those are somewhat sudden, but nothing is even close to as sudden as this. And if you look at the claims that are made throughout the history with recessions or whatever, this is so far over and above this in a very short period of time, that just simply doing business as was being done in January of 2020 is not going to be able to get the job done here as we’re in April of 2020 fighting the coronavirus.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (10:55)
So it’s urgent. I think people have been dislocated from their economic security. Many of the people who are most dislocated by this, the white collar folks, the folks that are more fluent, a lot of them have the luxury of working from home, and so it’s a little bit of a change for them, and obviously there have been some changes in that part of the economy too, I grant, but I think the folks who’ve really been dislocated tend to be the more blue collar folks, tend to be folks who are lower income, who are not able to simply work from home. And so those are the folks, through no fault of their own, that finds them in this situation, and so all these agencies need to be responsive to that. They need to keep those folks in mind, because the reason they’re in that situation is really because of government policy, fighting the coronavirus.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (11:48)
And we’ve done a lot in addition to that, and we’re going to continue to do as much as we can. Just in the past few weeks, we were able to streamline the unemployment assistance by waiving the work search requirements. You know, in January, that would have been a really smart thing, because you should look for a job before you apply for unemployment insurance. Well, in this situation, I don’t know that you’re necessarily going to get hired right now anywhere until this thing gets back on a different track. So why would we have people go through that and really waste time when they need the relief now? We also waived work requirements for SNAP and TANF, and directed DCF to work with the USDA to ensure families whose children are eligible for free and reduced price school lunch receive SNAP benefits. I’ve also directed DCF to submit a federal waiver to temporarily increase SNAP recipients’ benefit amounts to the maximum monthly allotment.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (12:45)
We did, last week, suspend the foreclosures and evictions for people. We’ve also suspended renewal requirements for professional licenses and driver’s license, and then directed Department of Transportation to expedite over $ 2 billion in infrastructure projects. You see the lack of activity on the roadways. This is a great opportunity to be able to get in there and really make a difference in terms of getting some of these projects moved up. You can surge workers there now and really get it done. So we want them to take advantage of that.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (13:19)
I’ve also directed the Florida Department of Revenue to be flexible with tax filing deadlines, and DOR has responded by delaying filing deadlines for property taxes and sales and use taxes for businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus. Sales and use taxes are now due on April 30. Property taxes are now due on April 15, and we of course activated the state bridge loan program. $50 million are set aside for $50,000 loan increments, and small businesses all across the state are able to apply for that.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (13:53)
And then of course we’re also pleased with the small business relief that was in the Federal Coronavirus Relief Bill, and I think we’ve had a good demand signal in Florida for that. Some of the banks have handled it better than others, but I think they’ll get it right, but that’s a great opportunity to be able to get what effectively will be a grant. It’ll be a loan, but then if it’s used for payroll, rent, some of the key things, then it can be forgiven. So we appreciate them doing that. And then in accordance with that, because that’s so important, today I’ll be issuing an executive order that will waive the collection of taxes for small business loans issued under the Federal Stimulus Bill. I think we want to streamline this, and we want an open roadway here for people to be able to use it, and so we’ll be signing that later today.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (14:41)
And then of course, previously we directed the Department of Economic Opportunity to offer $100 million in infrastructure for communities affected by Hurricane Irma. This was money that had been set aside for some of the other types of assistance. There has not necessarily been as much demand as originally it allocated, so we’re giving them the option to apply that for infrastructure, which I think is a good time to do it. And then Jared Moscowitz at DEM expedited Irma reimbursements, over $170 million, to cities, counties and hospital districts. They are obviously facing a crunch, financial crunch right now. The Federal Relief Bill does include a lot of money for not only state of Florida but for the localities, which is good. But I think this is important that they know that they’re going to have that.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (15:26)
In terms of testing, one of our main priorities throughout this has been to expand the availability of testing in the state of Florida. You know, you go back, I talked to people in February who think like, “I had a nasty … It wasn’t the flu. I tested negative, but at that point CDC said unless you had come from China personally, that you couldn’t get tested.” And part of that, I think, was because they just didn’t have enough supplies. So we’ve worked really hard to get as many supplies as possible. DEM has worked around the clock on that. Most of the supplies for the last few weeks have been sent to New York, initially to Washington. Now some other stuff in some other parts of the … So we’ve had to kind of fight for our fair share, but we are now over 120,000 individuals tested, which I think is huge. I mean, if you look at the improvement in the testing over the last two or three weeks, it’s been a dramatic increase in the state of Florida, and we’re now one of the top states for testing.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (16:25)
We also have now some of the hospitals, when the Abbott Labs came out with the instant tests, so it’ll give you a result in five minutes. And this is really a game changer for protecting people in nursing homes, protecting healthcare workers, conserving hospital space. So they have sent that. They only have so many, and I talked with the Abbott Labs directly. I spoke with the President. I said, “Look, let us buy some of this.” And so fortunately those machines are in Florida now with a number of the hospital systems. I was talking to some doctors yesterday. They just started using them. Now, they did not send them to every major hospital system, so what we’re doing is we’re working with some of the ones that have a number of these machines and seeing if they can shift some over so that pretty much every major hospital system has access to some type of rapid testing.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (17:18)
I mean, if you’re in a situation where someone shows up at the hospital, they’re coughing with a fever, you test them, and they’re negative for coronavirus, well then you know they just got to go home and rest most likely. When you have to wait 48, 72 hours for a test result, those are people that you got to keep in the hospital, most likely, and you don’t necessarily know whether they’re positive or not. So in terms of conserving hospital space, I think it’ll be important, and then the healthcare workers, if you’re exposed, then you do the test and you figure out whether you have it or not, and then this way you’re not having to isolate half the hospital staff because you’ll be able to get an answer on that. Hopefully the answer is negative.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (18:00)
And then I’ve spoken with some of these hospitals about, we’ve been working with AHCA and the hospitals and the nursing homes. If you have a nursing home resident at one of these hospitals and there aren’t test results available, and the person’s doing pretty good, a lot of times the hospitals want to get them back to the nursing home. Well obviously that could be a problem, because if they are positive then they can spread it. And so if you have this rapid test, you have someone in a nursing home, they go in, negative, then you know you can put them back and then you could also spot check test some of the staff members to control any outbreaks that you may see in those really sensitive environments. So we’re going to continue to try to expand that throughout the state of Florida, and I think that that’s something that’s really, really important.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (18:46)
We’re also having a call today with one of the companies that has the FDA approve antibodies tests. The antibodies test will test whether you’ve developed the antibodies that your systems develop the antibodies to fight the coronavirus. And so if you’re positive for the antibodies, that means you’ve had the coronavirus, and we’re in a situation now where we test 120,000 people, but we’re really focusing those tests on people who have symptoms, not only 65 and plus, but obviously that’s the main area where we’re really trying to help people.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (19:25)
You have the antibodies test, and I know they’re doing research at Stanford to try to figure out, how prevalent are these antibodies throughout the population, both here in the state of Florida and elsewhere? And if it’s really prevalent, then that’s going to really affect kind of how we approach it. If it’s not really prevalent, then again, that would give us some insight into how this virus has actually spread. Initially, I think the CDC looked at, “Well, you’re probably not going to spread it if you’re not really showing symptoms.” I think that was initially the guidance they gave. Now I think people … And I think you see it with the revised guidance on wearing a face mask-

Governor Ron DeSantis: (20:03)
I think people, and I think you see it with the revised guidance on wearing a face mask, is actually if you are not symptomatic but infected, you very well may be able to spread it, just like if you were doing symptoms. So I think the view has shifted a little bit in that direction. And then the reason that’s important, obviously, it’s because how many people have had mild or really no symptoms but have had this thing. And if you think about it, this thing was in China November, I don’t think it takes four months to get to the United States. I mean we have flights every day. There were hundreds of thousands of people that came from China in December and January before the flights were shut off. And then obviously people from all over the world. So I think it will be very beneficial to be able to do that.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (20:44)
And then also for hospital workers, if somebody does have the antibodies, well then that obviously would give them potential more freedom to be on the front lines and in those situations. So we’ve put in a big order. We’re not sure when that would come, but obviously that would be, I think, a real positive development if we were able to do it. Final thing, and I’m going to have our folks here offer some comments. In the state of Florida right now, we’ve got about 44% availability in terms of hospital beds throughout the State of Florida. Miami Dade is 43.5%, and Broward is 45.26%. these are things that are monitored every day in terms of how those beds are being used. And we’ve had contingency plans in place. And some of it’s been executed to field hospitals. I think you’ll see some other things that’ll be done, but that’s being monitored day after day.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (21:38)
And so finally I just tell the people of Florida, thank you for all you’re doing. I think that you’re really seeing people take the social distancing to heart. I know our elderly from the very beginning, because we knew that this was a virus that really had a disproportionate impact on our elderly, have really made terrific strides to not only protect themselves but their families. And so just keep doing that. We’re in this, but the more people are doing that, the better off we’re going to be on the other side of this. And so I want to thank everyone who’s worked very, very hard over the last many weeks. We have more time ahead of us, but, but hopefully we’ll get through it as best we can. But you do have my appreciation. I know a lot appreciation from the State of Florida.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (22:26)
So with that, let me give these folks the opportunity to offer what they’re doing. So Commissioner Zingale, will you just give a little color to what Revenue is doing to be able to help, and the capacities that you’re able to bring to bear?

Commissioner Zingale: (22:39)
Well, a little bit of color is probably a good term, little bit of history. I’ve been a public employee for a long, long, long time, knew many of you in the room for many, many years. Been through every recession since 1970, the Great Recession. I know this may be hard to bear, but for me and my team at Revenue, these are exciting times. We get to work early every morning. We work on weekends, we work nights. There are challenges not only on the child support side, on the property tax side, on the general tax side, but leadership, if you just heard the Governor, you can’t help but be impressed with his command of what’s going on. It’s exceptional.

Commissioner Zingale: (23:20)
A microphone. Oh, that’s bad. It’s exceptional. When you get an all hands call, never seen that happen before since 1972, and I’ve been here a long, long time, you don’t know how your staff is going to take that, when you reach out and say, “Those that are unemployed in the State of Florida need help.” We are uniquely situated in the Department of Revenue, because the nature of Child Support has many of our employees on the Child Support side already working daily with the databases over at Department of Economic Opportunity. On the tax side, we administer the tax part of the unemployment compensation tax. We are securely networked. The entire Child Support Program is logged into that computer system as well as many of those on the general tax system. But when you reach out and say, “They need help,” you don’t know what kind of response you’re going to get back from the employees. And I know this is difficult to believe. They are really enthusiastic about helping out.

Commissioner Zingale: (24:20)
I don’t say that with any due difference to politics. They are excited about helping out. I was a little shocked when the staff came back and said, ” We found 518 people, that are trained professionally in the area, that are in a secure network, able to start logging on to that system very soon, and want to get in and help as quickly as possible.” I think it’s important to know that the part of the system the Department of Revenue is going to be working in is the final verification step, the final verification step before they do the calculation and mail out the checks. It’s really technical. It’s complicated. We’ve been working with DEO for over a week so far. We had only eight people trained last Friday to make sure we could make this connection work. It will work.

Commissioner Zingale: (25:15)
We will be working over the next few days to make sure all 518 have secure log on and sign ons. We’re going to minimize the training, and use Train the Trainers to get as many people onboard as we can during the week. As soon as we can get work, we’re going to start working on it. This is the final step before we start taking and getting checks out of the exception process. All the good work you heard the Governor say on the big computer system, getting it logged on and sending it out automatically. We’re dealing with the tough work at the end to try to make sure everybody gets a check out there. Public employees that work in the Child Support side deal with these clients on an ongoing basis every day. People on the tax side know how important it is that the unemployment compensation checks ultimately make it to the citizens that need the money. So we’re raring to go, and we’re very thankful for the leadership the Governor provides.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (26:09)
Thanks. Ken.

Ken Lawson: (26:10)
Yes, sir. Ken Lawson, the Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. I’d like to thank Governor DeSantis for taking extraordinary efforts to ensure that our agency can better serve Floridians during this global pandemic. Thank you to Dr.Zingale. The more than 500 employees you’ve committed to our efforts will make a significant difference in our ability to provide faster payments to Floridians who have applied for Reemployment Assistance. And also thank you to Secretary Satter. You and your team have only overwhelmingly given support during this important time. In just few days, you’ve helped us increase our trading capacity, so we can bring on more resources, assist Floridians in record time. Also, your team also helped us coordinate and implement significant technology advances, that have allowed the Connect System to respond in a matter of seconds than minutes.

Ken Lawson: (26:59)
Let me give you perspective on where we are. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has seen historic increases in Floridians filing for Reemployment Assistance. Just last year, our agency received a total of 326,653 applications for Reemployment Assistance. From March 15th to April 5th we received 520,000 applications for reemployment assistance. In less than a month, we received more applications than we did in a year. Because of the Governor’s leadership, he’s made it easier for people to receive Reemployment Assistance by waving waiting week, also waving the work search and work requirements as he stated earlier. Regarding staffing to solve this problem, to assist my more than 200 DEO employees who are working this issue. As of today and beginning tomorrow we’ll have more than 500 individuals providing support for claim process for Reemployment Assistance. This includes 280 individuals can contract at call centers and folks from CareerSource centers across Florida. By next week there’ll be more than 1,000 individuals. 750 contract call center employees, 200 CareerSource Center staff, 500 Department of Revenue employees, along with the call for action by the governor for all State employees are available to assist in these efforts.

Ken Lawson: (28:19)
As the Governor said, this is all hands on deck. As he directs my department, we create a paper application for Floridians to fill out to assist with taking the pressure off the system, which is now increasing its capacity. Paper applications can be downloaded www.floridajobs.org/COVID/19, and mailed back to our department. And beginning this week CareerSource locations across the state will be providing paper applications and assisting Floridians with completing their applications for Reemployment Assistance.

Ken Lawson: (28:55)
Now going back to the technology and the investment made by the Governor. DEO has worked with DMS to enhance the capability for online applications for Reemployment Assistance, our Connect System. This is including add the servers the Governor has given to us. 72 servers have increased capacity. As he said, last week we had 17,000 applications go through today. As of last night, 62,000. That shows increase in speed and our ability to help Floridians.

Ken Lawson: (29:26)
In closing, I think both the Governor, both Secretaries, but I asked our Floridians to utilize our system, because our state is committed to working together to help our people receive the funds they need to get through this crisis. Governor again, thank you.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (29:41)
Can you just, so obviously we have State money that will go out. What’s the timeframe on the Federal Unemployment piece?

Ken Lawson: (29:50)
Yes, sir. We are waiting for the Federal Government to find the Cares Act money. That’s an additional $600 on top of the state benefits of 275, for anyone who lost their job by virtue of this crisis. We received guidance this past weekend …

Director Lawson: (30:03)
By virtue of this crisis. We received guides this past weekend, and we are working on developing the system to tell people how to apply and get that money out. But right now we’re-

Governor Ron DeSantis: (30:10)
Well, what’s the timeframe? I mean, do they recognize that this is urgent and they need to get it out soon?

Director Lawson: (30:15)
Yes sir, they do.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (30:15)
Okay.

Director Lawson: (30:15)
We’ve been in constant contact with the federal government. All states are waiting for the feds, but we are pushing harder to get the money quicker.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (30:23)
Yeah. I mean, it seems to me that the money’s worth a lot more over the next few weeks and it will be two months from now.

Director Lawson: (30:29)
That’s right, sir.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (30:30)
And so hopefully there’ll be able to really do that. John Satter, I really want to thank you for getting your resources cranked up here and offer you a opportunity.

John Satter: (30:40)
Good morning. As I relayed to you earlier today, I’ve been… this has been my first year in public service and after spending 28 years in the private sector, I have never, ever seen the personal commitment by state employees that I’ve seen over the past 72 hours and probably before. Folks are working 20 hour days to get these systems up and operational.

John Satter: (31:05)
I’d like to thank the governor for his clear and consistent direct mission oriented guidance as we work to diligently provide these important benefits to our fellow Floridians. I’d like to thank the scores of DEO and DMS team members who worked around the clock to improve systems and workflow and implement additional initiatives to properly care for Floridians at this time of need. Thank you to our private sector partners and providing 24 hour response to technical resources and capacity in order to provide the level of service that Floridians expect and deserve at this uncertain time.

John Satter: (31:45)
And thank you to the thousands of state employees who have registered to provide backup to DEO staff at this time of unprecedented volume. All of us understand that those in need are neighbors, friends and acquaintances who have been significantly affected by the economic challenges dealing with COVID-19.

John Satter: (32:05)
Our mission has been focused on two buckets. Number one, customer service. Number one, get the CONNECT system up and running. Yesterday, the system processed 62,000 applications. As of 10:00 this morning, the system processed just shy of 22,000 today alone.

John Satter: (32:24)
Number two, paper applications that the governor’s urging paper applications were posted to DEO’s website. On Saturday, 13,000… in excess of 13,000 paper applications were downloaded. On Sunday, in excess of 6,000 were processed. We have state employees standing by to process those promptly.

John Satter: (32:44)
And finally, the call system. We are training hundreds of individuals to take calls and provide response to those needing DEO services and to process online applications. There are currently in excess of 2,500 state mobilizing for action, with thousands ready to support those providing DEO response. They care about their neighbors and it is amazing to see the response provided for support and assistance.

John Satter: (33:14)
And then our second bucket is to provide support to DEO with workflow and timely payments. We are reviewing and improving workflow that the state can ensure that benefit payments are expedited and mailed promptly. And with that I’d like to thank the governor again for his leadership.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (33:31)
Great.

Speaker 3: (33:32)
Governor-

Governor Ron DeSantis: (33:32)
I see you’re going to take the mask down to ask the question. Is the CDC allow that? Okay. All right.

Speaker 4: (33:37)
The governor has time for just two questions, because he’s got a call with other governors. He’s going to jump off with you. [inaudible 00:33:43] only available for-

Speaker 3: (33:45)
Governor DeSantis, sir, what I want to do… I can save this question for Ken, but it has to do with why not allow people to email from the go?

Governor Ron DeSantis: (33:53)
So well. I do whatever we can do to get it, so if they have a way to do that, I mean I think that the people do have privacy issues and things so that would be a concern. But if they can surmount that I’m totally good with whatever makes this an easy seamless process for people, especially given the circumstances. I mean, what you would do now, may not be something that would have been okay six months ago because it was just a different world we’re living in. So I’ve told them, “Be nimble, don’t get bogged down in bureaucracy.” We are in a state of emergency and you got to be willing to think a little outside the box now. And I think that this, with what there’s already been done, I think you’re seeing that and hopefully we’ll just keep doing it.

Speaker 5: (34:42)
Governor, because of the massive problems with the websites, people feeling so much pain, a number of people were asking this question. Can the state make the eligibility day for unemployment benefits retroactive to when they lost their job, not when their application was processed?

Governor Ron DeSantis: (34:59)
I think I told them to look at that, because if it’s through no fault of their own, where they were trying to get on the system and the system is crashing and then they get on, the system is better. And look, the statistics I’m hearing, I’m happy with. Yeah. I was also told two weeks ago that the online was the way to go and obviously, it wasn’t ready. I like what I’m hearing about this. It seems like they’re processing a lot of stuff, but last week you had people try to get on and they’d go through it. It would take forever to load. When I was in the Navy, I remember the systems would be you do all this different things and it was like the amount of time that would be wasted with a bad system, if it times out you got to start all over. Under the circumstances it’s terrible, but even in normal it just, it frustrates people. I think through no fault of their own… I’ve told Ken, if they’ve been frustrated from applying and then finally now the system’s better to apply, then I think that that should be something that is taken into consideration. I mean, it’s not like they were just sitting on their hands, not doing anything. Hopefully they’ll be able to do that.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (36:09)
And then we’re going to be working on… we have some other announcements that we’ll be making maybe later today or first thing in the morning, but we’re doing better on some of the supplies that are coming in, particularly some of the treatment. And then obviously on this antibodies test, if we can sew that up, I think that that’ll be a really, really big deal for the people of Florida. I got to go get on with the vice president, but these folks are here to answer whatever questions you have.

Speaker 6: (36:34)
Governor, there’s been calls for the resignation of Director Lawson. Do you stand by it?