TAMPA, Fla. - Governor Ron DeSantis said on Monday that the reopening of Florida will be "slow," "methodical," and "data-driven."
Governor DeSantis spoke from Tampa General Hospital on Monday afternoon.
Early in the news conference, the Governor discussed how Florida hospitals have avoided becoming overrun. In fact, he said that Florida currently has 6,400 ventilators sitting idle at the moment. In addition, only 400 people statewide are on ventilators. He added that "you've seen the hospital system hold up. Capacity has never been an issue at any time during this."
From here, Florida is focusing on testing, the Governor added. Governor DeSantis said that walk-up coronavirus testing is now available for those who cannot drive to a drive-thru site. 5,000 people so far have been tested this way. In addition, the Governor said that he is allowing licensed pharmacists to complete coronavirus testing if they choose to do so. The first big shipment of antibody tests is also expected to arrive in Florida on May 1st.
"Initially, when this started in March, the CDC had very narrow criteria about who could be tested. It's important for people to know -- those days are gone. That is the past. You have access to testing. If you are somebody who wants to get tested, you have the ability to do it," Governor DeSantis said. "We are welcoming people who want to do that. We think it's important not only for an individual's health to know whether they are positive or not, but also for professionals, like we have up here, to understand the prevalence of this within the community."
Looking forward as well, Florida is working to come up with a plan to safely reopen the state and its economy.
"Folks should see a light at the end of the tunnel, but it's not going to be something like a switch is going to be flicked. This is something that's going to be like slow and steady wins the race. It's going to be very methodical, very data-driven. There are going to probably be some people who think it is too slow and I get that," Governor DeSantis said. "This is uncharted territory. We use the facts the best we can but the fact is that nobody knows what this will or that will do. So, you go slow, you measure, you go steady, and you make the best decisions that you can."
A doctor with Tampa General Hospital added to that, stating that "we are ready to open. And I am not only speaking for Tampa General Hospital but probably speaking for every hospital across the state."
If there is a resurgence after reopening, hospital officials confirmed that "we will be ready to handle it. As the economy starts to slowly, methodically open up, if we do see a surge or cluster here or there, this institution — and I know our sister institutions … — will be ready to handle anything that comes our way."
The Re-Open Florida task force is still working on a plan to reopen Florida. It will look to the White House guidelines and must have three phases: short, medium, and long-term. Health officials, economic experts, local business leaders, and state officials are contributing to the plan. Florida residents can also contribute to the plan through an online portal launched for comment submission.
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