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Governor Ron DeSantis believes flattening the curve of coronavirus cases is possible without resorting to “draconian” measures and his state of Florida is proof it can be done.
The Republican governor spoke on “Hannity” about the efforts and results of combating the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida where, despite being hit hard with the virus outbreak, the state has seen fewer hospitalizations than predicted with just over 900 deaths.
(Source: Fox News)
“I’m going to honest, Governor. I was particularly worried about the state of Florida,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said Wednesday, noting the vacation destination has a high elderly population. “How did you do this, because I would have thought Florida would have been one of the worst-hit states.”
“People were predicting us to be worse than New York, like another Italy,” DeSantis replied.
“They said that this week, one of the newspapers in Florida said we would have 464,000 people hospitalized. The actual number is 2,200. So we beat that by 462,000,” the governor, who issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 3, said.
“But what we did very early was focus on the populations who are most at risk: Our senior citizens, and particularly our nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” DeSantis explained, noting that screenings of employees were immediately implemented and visits to the facilities were suspended in an aggressive effort to stem the spread of the virus.
Hannity pointed out one area of concern was The Villages which, with more than 128,000 residents, is one of the largest retirement communities in the country.
“We instituted screening for all staff immediately, we stopped visitation, we required all staff to wear N95 masks,” the governor said.
“I charged the National Guard with doing strike teams and spot testing at the facility to try to figure out if any of the staff are asymptomatic. Whenever there was an incident at a nursing home, we send these quick response teams to go and try to limit some infections,” he added.
“We’ve put out almost six million masks just to our nursing homes and assisted living facilities and so we understood the risk that this posed to the senior population,” DeSantis told Hannity.
DeSantis issued Florida’s stay-at-home order later than most other states, while critics slammed his for the delay as images of partying Spring Break students and crowded beaches fueled the condemnation. But the governor contended in his interview with Hannity that social distancing measures were strongly enforced in the state and more severe overreach by the government was not necessary to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
“We worked with The Villages constructively on social distancing and here’s the thing – you don’t have to be draconian,” DeSantis said.
“At The Villages, they’re playing golf just like they always do, but they’re doing it with social distancing. So, they don’t share a cart with anyone and they don’t touch the flagstick and they’ve ended up doing very well,” the governor said.
President Trump gave the retirement community a shout out on Twitter earlier this week, saying he was “so proud of everyone!”
“Congratulations to all of my many friends at The Villages in Florida on having done so well, and with such great spirit, during these rather unusual times,” Trump wrote.
Congratulations to all of my many friends at The Villages in Florida on having done so well, and with such great spirit, during these rather unusual times. So proud of everyone! Mark Morse & Gary Lester have really stepped up to the plate. Hope to see everyone soon.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2020
“I think it’s been a team effort here in Florida,” DeSantis told Hannity.” We’ve got great public health people here at the county level, we’ve worked very good with the local governments as well, and we still have more work to do. But clearly, we have done way better than all the experts said we would and I think we did it by a data-driven approach.”
As Florida looks to begin reopening its economy, having partially reopened beaches last weekend, other cities and states continued to impose stringent orders to keep residents at home. Houston-area officials will begin fining people for not wearing masks in public after issuing an order Wednesday. And in New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still keeping non-essential business shuttered until mid-May, telling a reporter Wednesday that economic hardships are not “worse than death.”
Hannity commended the Florida governor’s encouragement of residents to enjoy the outdoors while maintaining safety guidelines.
“People would play golf with social distancing, would fish, while maintaining social distancing and I think that’s healthy,” DeSantis said.
“People sitting inside all day eating Cheetos and watching Netflix … that’s not great,” he added. “I think we’ve respected people, I think we did it the right way and I think it’s paid off. These draconian orders I don’t think have worked throughout the country.”
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