TALLAHASSEE – The alarm system set up by state emergency leaders to send urgent public health and safety SMSs to Florida people was activated on Wednesday, but it was not an emergency.
It was used to deliver Governor Ron DeSantis ’three-minute video message, which repeated what Florida people had previously learned from the news – that vaccinations and therapeutic drugs were being taken to Florida hospitals within weeks.
Recorded from his desk at the Capitol, DeSantis acknowledged that early doses of therapeutic drugs and vaccines should be proportioned, but as he had done for weeks, he did not explain who would decide who would receive the first doses and what criteria he used.
In two weeks, this is the second time DeSantis, which has virtually disappeared since the election, has decided to bypass journalists ’questions and instead issue a video message on social media that is also spread by the state emergency operations alert system. as an e-mail platform.
He made a five-minute video last week in which he referred to the vaccines as “probably the biggest ray of hope” in retaining the virus, stating that the state will not trust the Florida population to obtain them. No specifics recommended.
This week’s video message came after several news organizations wrote stories about what Politico called “DeSantis’ missing action after the election ”. The reports detailed how Governor Donald Trump disappeared after the defeat of President Donald Trump, in stark contrast to the way he crossed the state months before the election, calling for business to be reopened, a summer wave of cuts in COVID affairs echoing White House corona virus messages , and even the strengthening of questionable stock immunity theories.
Two days after the election, DeSantis appeared on Fox News’s The Ingraham Angle, urging Trump to “fight further,” forcing state lawmakers to take matters into their own hands. He then appeared as a brief interview with The Weather Channel before approaching the Eta Tropical Storm.
Last week, DeSantis was briefly introduced in the State House and Senate chambers as he attended the Florida Legislative Organizing Meeting. But instead of asking questions, the governor quietly slipped out of a back hallway and jumped on a plane to Washington DC, where he was scheduled to meet with White House health officials.
Asked by the Sarasota Herald Tribune this week whether DeSantis ’reluctance to attend public events was designed to avoid journalists’ questions against Trump’s failed efforts to challenge election results in key states, Fred Piccolo, director of communications at DeSantis he said, “I think that’s as good a tip as anything else.
The strategy has raised predictable complaints from Democrats.
“More videos, huh?” said Orlando state spokeswoman Anna Eskamani on Twitter on Wednesday. “Do you have any thoughts on holding a press conference so that journalists can ask you questions and give the public a better insight into how to deal with the # COVID19 epidemic in Florida?”
By recording the one-way message, DeSantis avoids answering the constant questions that have arisen over the past month about how government officials handle the nationwide distribution of vaccines and therapies.
It did not respond to demands from a bipartisan group of mayors to encourage it to impose a civic-masked mandate, increase state testing efforts, and restore local government authority to impose coronavirus restrictions.
He did not explain why he supported the policy of Trump’s controversial health adviser, Scott Atlas, who agrees to allow the virus to spread in the community while protecting the elderly. And as cases in Florida continue to rise, DeSantis has not responded to why cases in long-term care facilities are also rising, even though they are said to be the top priority for the state.
“As we look forward to the vaccination, I think it’s important to halve the protection of the most vulnerable, especially vulnerable seniors in long-term care facilities,” DeSantis said in the video. “If we can redouble our efforts to protect the most vulnerable until the vaccine is deployed, we will help preserve thousands of Florida lives.”
COVID cases continue to increase
Under certain conditions, the state opened long-term care facilities to visitors, and the governor said he “set aside an additional 500,000 rapid tests” so that “over the next few weeks, all long-term care facilities will be able to test all staff, all visitors and all entrepreneurs. “
But last week, the health agency’s agency reported that things aren’t improving in long-term care facilities, but actually remain the same, with 1480 residents showing positive results and 2,033 employees on Nov. 23. The testing and visitor screening protocol for staff and residents has not changed.
Meanwhile, the number of cases among people over the age of 65 in the community has risen by 68 percent in the past two weeks, says biostatist Jason Salemi, a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
DeSantis reiterated a prediction by public health professionals that after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration meets on December 10 to certify the first COVID-19 vaccines, distribution is expected to begin immediately.
The first round will be enough to vaccinate 20 million Americans, DeSantis said, but it wouldn’t tell you how many of those Florida will get.
“It obviously won’t be enough in the beginning to vaccinate everyone, but priorities will be set,” he said. “In Florida, we will set priorities, especially for the most vulnerable seniors who are in long-term care facilities, as well as our front-line health workers, who are in daily contact with vulnerable patients as more and more vaccines become available. . “
But who decides and what criteria will the state use?
The Florida Department of Health’s draft vaccine distribution report, released in October, identifies 223,000 employees and 145,000 residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, as well as 497,000 licensed health professionals in the state who would be eligible to be vaccinated if they agreed to take it.
The Florida Department of Health has asked nursing homes and other nursing homes to register to be vaccinated, and the federal government has contracted CVS and Walgreens to provide on-site vaccination clinics immediately.
He is still waiting for the vital details
More than a month ago, the agency was asked and did not respond on how it would persuade reluctant health professionals and residents to give the vaccine, and the governor did not develop a messaging strategy to inform people of possible side effects.
Using the video, DeSantis repeated the news that Florida hospitals were receiving monoclonal antibody treatment with Bamlanivimab to prevent hospitalization of COVID patients if they were administered early in the infection. And he noted that hospitals are also receiving an antibody drug developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. This medicine was used by Trump to help his immune system fight COVID-19.
But how much treatment the state gets and who decides is just a few questions Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times they asked the governor and state health officials about the past month and received no response.
Among our questions and requests for public registration:
▪ Does the Florida Department of Health keep minutes or recordings of vaccine working group meetings?
▪ Please send a copy of the survey of hospitals, pharmacies, community health departments and emergency medical staff about the needs for vaccine distribution.
▪ Does the state have a vaccine distribution plan for inmates and correctional staff?
▪ Which Florida hospitals have you identified that have an extra cold store available for Pfizer?
▪ What criteria are used to decide which hospitals and populations are selected for the first vaccination doses?
▪ How many “essential workers” has DOH identified as part of the distribution of phase 2 vaccination? Who decides who gets it?
▪ According to the draft vaccination distribution plan, GIS maps will be produced in order to “identify areas where additional service providers need to be entered”. Please provide a copy of the map.
Complicating the problem is that the governor’s chief of staff, Shane Strum, surprised many when he dismissed a former public official in the Department of Health in October and did not appoint a deputy.
Meanwhile, the use and disappearance of DeSantis ’video messages from public scrutiny over media control is not a new tactic for governors.
In Kentucky, former Governor Matt Bevin regularly shut down the state’s major press outlets, refusing to answer questions from journalists, instead using social media and radio interviews to circumvent the questions. Bevin lost a narrow re-election offer last year.
In Florida, former Governor Rick Scott regularly circumvented media questions, offered vague and incomplete answers and built barriers to transparency. But unlike Bevin, Scott was not only re-elected but also elevated to the U.S. Senate by narrow vote.