TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an address Sunday evening to provide an update on coronavirus in the state.
The governor said another 500 coronavirus testing kits have been sent to hospitals and private labs around the state, although the exact breakdown of which hospitals received which quantities of kits remains unclear. He said county health departments would be receiving kits as well.
He also stressed the COVID-19 test would be free to the patient.
In his address, the governor stressed the importance of staying home when ill and discouraged participating in large gatherings, saying that while the young and healthy have a low risk of developing serious health problems due to COVID-19, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions face the prospect of potentially fatal complications should the become sick with coronavirus.
As part of his plea for social-distancing to be observed, DeSantis mentioned large spring break gatherings along Florida’s beaches as a major health concern.
“Although COVID-19, the data suggests is probably not a very serious threat to the health of people who are young and don’t have underlying medical conditions, they can still acquire it ad transmit it to others,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis urged Floridians to take precautions, to continue the practice of social-distancing and self-isolation and to continue to use hygiene methods such as frequent hand washing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The governor said he requested more specific information be released on linked cases of coronavirus as they become confirmed.
“I have asked the Department of Health to provide as mush amplifying data as possible on some of these COVID-19 cases, particularly unlinked cases," DeSantis said. “You’ll say someone from Broward, but what about which city in Broward, so they’re working on that.”
DeSantis said he also sent a letter to the Federal Small Business Administration to turn on the SBA Loan Program to help compensate for the toll the spread of COVID-19 has taken on the economy. The governor predicted that small business would be impacted particularly heavily by isolating and quarantining measures.
Personal protection equipment will be made more widely available to those who may come into contact with those infected by COIVD-19 through their professions. N95 masks will be shipped to hospitals as cases surge in treatment facilities. It was also noted during the governor’s press conference that hospitals are experiencing a surge, but that Florida hospitals are at a manageable capacity. Nurses and doctors are being put on standby should a major surge in cases surface.
The National Guard was also mobilized into Broward County. $40 million in reimbursements from Hurricane Irma was moved to hospitals, counties so that money could be utilized for emergency measures.
Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees reiterated the importance of staying away from large crowds, self-isolating after travel and cruises and protecting health care workers by following guidelines when going to hospitals for any reason.
In response to bare grocery store shelves, DeSantis spoke with the CEO of the Publix grocery chain. He said while no food supply shortage is anticipated, the demand for food is very high.
In an address just minutes earlier, President Donald Trump called on Americans to cease hoarding groceries and other supplies amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Trump said he spoke with leading grocery store executives and that the food supply chain remains healthy.
Speaking at the same White House new conference Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence urged Americans to only buy the groceries they need for the week ahead.