DeSantis vows no statewide restrictions despite rise in COVID-19 cases

Governor Ron DeSantis doubled down on his stance against any state shutdowns as Florida nears 1,000,000 total positive COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, the governor held a press conference for the first time in weeks and since the election. DeSantis wanted there to be no doubt that schools will remain open for in-person and virtual learning next semester and that he won’t impose any shutdowns for businesses, mask mandates or other COVID-19 related restrictions.

“Yes, we’ve seen the cases increase, but look at all the other states that have seen way, way more. So, I hear people say ‘Oh, Florida is open and they’re having increased cases.’ Well the states that are locked down are increasing twice the rate we are,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis extends ban on mask bans, business restrictions

Gov. Ron DeSantis extended an executive order that bans cities and counties from enforcing mask mandates. It also bans local governments from limiting capacity in businesses or restaurants.

He said Florida has shown progress since the pandemic began.

“Right now in our hospitals, we have about 4,000 patients who are being treated, who are COVID positive. In the summer, we were at almost 10,000 COVID positive patients,” said DeSantis.

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Along with the state’s rising infections come concerns about overwhelmed hospitals, but DeSantis said there are plenty of hospital beds.

Counties in the Tampa Bay area had about 3,000 available at the time of this writing.

DeSantis turned the focus to the most vulnerable populations, including those in nursing homes.

“We’ve been working with CVS and Walgreens who have contracts with the federal government for them to go in and do this,” DeSantis said of distributing a vaccine to those patients. “Obviously, we’re going to decide where the vaccine initial allotment goes, but we believe that is very, very important.”

MORE: COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to mount in Florida

As public health officials track new COVID-19 cases, one thing was clear: DeSantis ruled out any restrictions.  

“You focus on protecting vulnerable people. You provide the resources to our medical and hospitals as they need it, but you don’t shut down people because the effects of that are profound,” said DeSantis.

The governor said nursing homes will get another half a million COVID tests for visitors, staff and contractors.

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 covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know

AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com

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