Gov. Ron DeSantis played down the significance of a surge in COVID-19 infections on Monday, calling it a seasonal phenomenon. He also warned against trying to shame vaccine-averse people into taking the shots.
“I do not agree with some of these people — some of these quote-unquote experts — who lambaste people and criticize them or say they’re stupid or stuff. That’s not the way to reach folks, okay?” the governor said during a press conference.
“That’s one of the reasons I always said, ‘No mandates.’ Because, I think, honestly, I don’t believe in mandates. But I don’t even think it would be productive to do that,” he continued.
“The folks who wanted it, the seniors, we worked hard to get it. Everyone who’s wanted it, obviously, can get it. Now you’re in a situation where you have folks who may be skeptical of it. Understand, if you’re communicating, you don’t want to say things that are going to cause them to retreat even further.
“And, I’m sorry, there’s been a lot of misinformation and a lot of bad advice that’s been given by some of these experts over the last year. These people saw all that; they remember all this stuff. So, I would say, have a little humility when you’re trying to carry that message. You know, understand that there’s some people that may have qualms. What I try to do is just present the data. And, if I thought the data didn’t justify, then I would say that, and I would be completely honest.”
Desantis spoke following a ceremonial signing ceremony for legislation creating a wildlife corridor intended to allow endangered species including the Florida Panther to roam.
Florida and the nation have seen a surge in COVID infections, including cases linked to the more virulent Delta variety, with the Florida Department of Health reporting 45,605 new cases during the seven-day period ending on Thursday. That followed 45,603 new infections reported during the previous week. The cumulative case total exceeds 2.4 million, with 38,388 deaths.
Nearly 11.3 million Floridians have completed their vaccinations against the coronavirus, or 59 percent of those eligible.
DeSantis said he’d predicted an increase in infections during the summer, based on the pattern that emerged last year.
“If you are vaccinated, though, the number of people that end up hospitalized is almost zero. It’s incredibly, incredibly low,” he said.
“Understand, a positive test is not a clinical diagnosis of illness. And so, if you’re vaccinated and you test positive but you don’t get sick, well, the name of the game is to keep people out of the hospital.”
“We have three vaccines available. Anyone, any adult, can get it at pharmacies, health departments, you name it. Very easy to get. Very quick process. And that’s available,” DeSantis said.
“Also, if anyone ends up hospitalized, we have much better treatments, such as the drips that you can do, compared to where we were last summer.”
DeSantis argued that his “seniors first” policy, targeting initial vaccine supplies to older people more vulnerable to serious or fatal symptoms, has been vindicated.
“I absolutely believe that saved lives. I think it saved thousands of lives. Had we not done that, there would have been more seniors exposed, and even some of the seniors that did get infected, I think their illness would have been much more severe than it was because they had that protection. So, I think the benefits have been clear, you know, in the state of Florida for those who have done it.”