Gov. Ron DeSantis’ communications director Helen Ferré provided a detailed list of the DeSantis’ administration’s efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida.
Here’s what she had to say in an email last night:
Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been measured, targeted, and focused on spearheading policies that protect the safety, health and well-being of Floridians during this global pandemic.
* During this global pandemic, Governor DeSantis is in continuous communications with mayors across the state, particularly in the areas of greatest impact such as south Florida. For example, the four mayors of Miami Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe are in obvious coordination with the Governor in announcing an integrated approach to sheltering-in-place. In Broward County, Governor DeSantis worked in conjunction with Memorial Health Care System and the Florida National Guard to set up a drive-through testing site where individuals are tested free of charge. This week, Governor DeSantis was in Miami Beach with Mayor Dan Gelber to support the conversion of the Miami Beach Convention Center into a makeshift hospital which can hold 450 beds, including 50 for ICU. The mobile testing sites that are set up in coordinating with the Florida National Guard is an outcome of working with local officials, hospitals, DEM, and DOH to provide the necessary resources for testing. Currently, Florida has tested 1 out of 155 residents. S. Korea which is touted as the model to follow tested 1 out of 200.
* The Governor’s administration is working around the clock to ensure supplies are available, the data is being collected and the needs of the community are met. If you review his public schedule, we have included a file from March 1, you will see his calls and meetings with local, state and national leaders in both the public and private sector. In addition, since March 1, when the Governor issued Executive Order 20-51 directing the Florida Department of Health to issue a Public Health Emergency, he has held 36 press briefings and gaggles which is 6 briefings per week in less than 6 weeks.
* Secretary Mayhew, and Surgeon General Rivkees have enormous responsibilities handling this public health crisis and their communications directors are handling all inquiries and answering media questions daily. Secretary Mayhew and her team have visited more than 1000 nursing homes and assisted living facilities to ensure that they are following the proper protocols and to assess needs given the corona virus. AHCA has also made over 2,000 phone calls to provide technical assistance to facilities. Surgeon General Rivkees is on daily calls with hospital associations, long-term care associations, businesses, education partners, county health departments in addition to calls with local and state leaders.
*Department of Emergency Manager Director Moskowitz is directing the largest logistics operations in state history which includes coordinating the shipment of the following to date:
- 5.2 million masks, including N-95, procedure and surgical masks
- More than 500,000 face shields
- More than 725,000 shoe covers
- 4.75 million gloves
- 275,000 gowns
*The Governor and his senior management team are in continuous contact with leaders from across the state including mayors, law enforcement, hospital and healthcare professionals, business leaders, faith-based leaders, port directors, educators, and military leadership. His leadership that has enjoined efforts of the public and private sector to work together within their communities. FedEx, for example, answered the Governor’s call to use their resources to print, mail, free of charge, applications for unemployment assistance. Local leaders throughout the state have been supported by the Governor, his office, DEM, DOH, AHCA, DOE, DCF ADP, FLHSMV, FDOC and DEP, to name a few.
*Local authorities are invaluable partners in mitigating the spread of this virus. The Governor has limited the movements of individuals which is not in conflict with local authorities’ ability to adopt requirements directly on businesses or venues that may be stricter than the Governor’s Executive Order. This continuous partnership between local and state officials is helping to provide necessary information to help direct additional services and supplies to areas of greater need.
*Floridians have been by-and-large responsible in abiding by the strict rules for social distancing, teleworking wherever possible and staying at home. Thousands of parents are assisting their children with virtual school as families have altered their daily behavior. These are sacrifices that are made for the health and safety of individuals, families and communities, especially our elderly who are the most vulnerable. Governor DeSantis was one of the first to suspended visitations to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and residences for the elderly.
*Florida has been at the forefront of the timely and transparent dissemination of public health information related to COVID-19. The Florida Department of Health has developed a dashboard (Floridahealthcovid19.gov) that includes COVID-19 positive cases by county, zip code, age, gender, ethnicity, deaths, number of persons tested, hospital and ICU bed availability and percentage of positive cases. This data is helping determine where resources need to be used to support the health and well-being of residents. In addition to the dashboard, the state issues a twice daily email alert to ensure the public are aware of the latest available information available online.
*Without a doubt, travel has been a critical factor in spreading COVID-19. The community spread in New York presents a grave concern for Florida with travel as is the case with other states, such as Louisiana where New Orleans has also seen an alarming increase in numbers of COVID-19 positive patients. Impeding flights to Florida are not within state jurisdiction but those who do come into our state are mandated to self-isolate for 14 days. Those who fly into the main airport of Florida are greeted by the Florida National Guard who ask them to fill out forms for tracking. FBO’s are also included. Last week, a charter flight from Teterboro, NJ flew into a small airport in Kissimmee with 11 passengers onboard. The local DOH office was contacted and sent the Governor’s Executive Order and forms to fill out. Local law enforcement met the aircraft and ensured all forms were completed. The procedure is working well and is being emulated by other states. Please see the chart that shows the screening forms collected by airports as of 4/8/2020 which shows nearly 16,000 forms of travelers. Many are couples traveling together, that would mean approximately 32,000 arriving from areas of community spread.
*A one-size-fits-all solution is not effective in Florida, a large and diverse state, which is why Governor DeSantis has been focused on targeted policies supporting local municipal efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. For example, Miami Dade County has 5,354 cases, which requires an intense public health response. However, for the 24 less densely populated Florida counties that have 20 or fewer COVID-19 positive cases, such a response would not be in the best interest of local communities. Not all environments are the same.
Those critical of Florida’s data-driven approach to mitigate and repel COVID-19 perhaps do not understand the science, respect local leaders’ ability to make appropriate decisions for their communities or are using this crisis for political purposes. Regardless, Florida is prepared for the challenges that may await.