Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed back at a reporter questioning his state's response to the coronavirus pandemic as Florida beaches begin to reopen this week, asking "what have the results been?"
"Look at some of the most draconian orders issued in some of the states and compare Florida in terms of our hospitalizations per 100,000, in terms of our fatalities per 100,000," DeSantis said Tuesday at a White House press conference with President Trump. "Everyone in the media was saying Florida would be like New York or Italy and that has not happened because we understood we have a big, diverse state, we understood the outbreak was not uniform throughout the state. And we had a tailored and measured approach that not only helped our numbers be way below what anybody predicted but also did less damage to our state going forward."
REPORTER: Governor DeSantis, you did face quite a bit of criticism for not closing your state as soon as some did.
GOV. RON DESANTIS: What have the results been?
You're looking at some of the most draconian orders issued in some of the states -- and compare Florida in terms of our hospitalizations per 100,000, in terms of our fatalities per 100,000. You go from D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, you name it, Florida has done better.
I'm not criticizing those states, but everyone in the media was saying Florida would be like New York or Italy and that has not happened because we understood we have a big, diverse state, we understood the outbreak was not uniform throughout the state. And we had a tailored and measured approach that not only helped our numbers be way below what anybody predicted, but also did less damage to our state going forward. I had construction going on, the road projects, but we did it in a safe way and we did it I think in a way that is probably more sustainable over the long term.
So, I think people could go back and look at all the criticism and then look now and nobody predicted that Florida would --
We have challenges, it's not an easy situation. We have had people in the hospital. I'm now in a situation where I have less than 500 people in a state of 22 million on ventilators as of last night. And I have 6,500 ventilators that are sitting idle, unused, throughout the state of Florida.
REPORTER: My question is, you face that criticism, you have these numbers are sharing. Are you concerned at all about another outbreak coming this summer or this fall and not being ready?
GOV. RON DESANTIS: Of course, that's why the whole thing was doing is, this is a novel virus, it's unpredictable. But we are in a situation we have so many more tools to be able to detect. One of the things I was talking to Dr. Birx about, our Florida Department of Health, we have a fully integrated health care system with the counties. We have been doing contact tracing from the very beginning.
Sure, once the outbreak gets to a certain point, the mitigation is really what you do, the contact tracing is not going to be able to stop, like what was going on in New York City. In Florida we have such an uneven outbreak, we were doing contact tracing throughout this whole time and parts of the state that the outbreak wasn't as severe. They limited the spread and did that very effectively. That's going to be a huge part of what we are doing going forward. We think that can be successful, and we are going to have so many more opportunities with sentinel surveillance, with the nursing homes. Nothing is going to change on the nursing home testing. Until this virus goes away, this is the population that is most at risk.
In Florida, we have close to 85% of the fatalities that have been age 65 or older. Most of them have some co-morbidities. These are the types of facilities that are the most at risk. We are going to continue protecting the elderly. We have messaged that very early, about the risky, how they should stay home. I wasn't going to arrest and elderly if they left their house. But we told them, limit contacts because you are more at risk. You go to a place like The Villages, there were articles written saying, "Oh, The Villages is going to crash and burn," all this other stuff. They have like a 2.5% infection rate. We tested 1200 a sum to medic and none were found to have the virus. This is the message of understanding, the risks are different for different parts of our communities, and age and health, and continuing. I think you will see however we move forward, I will announce that soon. You are going to see even more attention paid to the vulnerable. I think that's what we need to be doing.