ORLANDO, Fla. – A news conference Gov. Ron DeSantis hosted in Orlando Monday afternoon to push for convalescent plasma donations to help COVID-19 patients got off to a rocky start as protesters interrupted just minutes into his remarks.
The group yelled, “Shame on you,” “You’re lying to the public,” “You continue to lie to the public,” “Don’t listen,” “Black lives matter” and “You have blood on your hands.”
At first, the governor tried to continue on with his speech but when he realized his words were being drowned out, he paused and gave an uncomfortable smile.
He then laughed as protesters were being escorted out.
“And we will not be defunding the police so don’t worry about that, we’re going to be supporting our men and women in law enforcement,” DeSantis said after the protesters left the building.
Even still, muffled chants and apparent drumming could be heard throughout the entirety of the approximately 30-minute event.
OneBlood CEO Bud Scholl also made a comment about the protesters.
“I hope none of them get sick,” he said.
Later during his remarks, he added, “I hope they never need convalescent plasma.”
Exactly one week ago, a Miami-based immigration activist interrupted DeSantis as he spoke at a South Florida hospital, telling the governor that he’s doing “nothing” about record-breaking coronavirus cases.
A representative from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said it’s not known how the protesters got into the event and said no arrests were made.
Despite the demonstration, DeSantis carried on about how convalescent plasma has proven to be a promising treatment for COVID-19 patients. The problem is, the plasma from recovered coronavirus patients is in short supply so he’s urging Floridians who have recovered from the deadly respiratory illness to consider making a donation at OneBlood or another facility.
“There is an increased demand from hospitals for convalescent plasma, and we want to be able to meet that need and so one of the best things you can do if you’re somebody who has recovered from COVID-19, is to donate blood. Your plasma will be able to be used to help other patients and the success has been promising,” DeSantis said.
OneBlood Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rita Reik said that there is no database of recovered COVID-19 patients so the organization can only rely on self-reporting.
“The important thing to know is that people who’ve recovered from COVID and are now healthy and have antibodies circulating can actually help save a life and improve an outcome for a person who is fighting the disease,” Reik said.
She asked anyone who falls under that category to go to OneBlood.org to register.
“The need right now is quite urgent,” she said.
According to Scholl, plasma can be donated every 28 days so he hopes residents will make it a regular habit.
“I can tell you, we’ve distributed thousands of units to date and there’s no end in sight,” Scholl said.
The governor pointed out, too, that those who have tested positive for antibodies without ever actually testing positive for the disease while it was active are welcome to donate as well.
As of Monday, Florida has reported 360,394 cases and 5,183 deaths.
For more information on how to donate convalescent plasma, click here.