DeSantis' message: Hope is on the horizon

As the state approaches another morbid coronavirus milestone of 20,000 COVID-19 deaths, Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered some glad tidings to Floridians this week: Hope is on the horizon.

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Florida is in line to receive nearly 180,000 doses of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine as soon as federal health authorities sign off on the drug, with 81,900 doses slated to be used in long-term care facilities and the remainder going to five hospitals throughout the state.

The Pfizer vaccine came as COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to climb throughout the state.

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State health officials have recorded more than 1 million COVID-19 cases and 19,851 coronavirus-related deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

But DeSantis said vaccines that are about to be approved by federal officials will make a “huge difference,” especially for older Floridians and those who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying if they are exposed to the highly contagious virus.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” DeSantis told reporters Friday in Tampa.

A day earlier, the governor announced that Florida will receive 179,400 doses of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine in its first shipment from the federal government.

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More than half of the vaccine --- 97,500 doses --- will be sent to five Florida hospitals to be administered to high-contact and high-exposure health care personnel, DeSantis said.

The remaining 81,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be sent to CVS and Walgreens and the Department of Health for use in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. DeSantis has made clear that residents of long-term care facilities are his top priority.

“We are working to get as much vaccine for our citizens as possible, but Florida will not, nor will any state, have enough to vaccinate everyone right off the bat,” DeSantis said in the video.

At a White House vaccine summit Tuesday, DeSantis indicated that all Florida nursing home residents could be inoculated by the end of the year.

“These next six to eight weeks, if we can get the nursing homes, first-line health care (workers) and then start getting it out to the broader senior population, man, that is going to make such a big difference,” DeSantis said Friday. “We should be optimistic about what could be coming down the pike here. Look, if I could get double, I would get double.”

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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