Gov. Ron DeSantis attended a press briefing alongside President Donald Trump on Tuesday at the White House Oval Office.
In the briefing, DeSantis announced he will unveil the first phase of reopening Florida on Wednesday.
“We’re going to approach it with a very measured, thoughtful and data-driven way,” DeSantis said, “and I think that’s what most of the folks throughout the state are looking for.”
Trump and coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx praised DeSantis for doing a “spectacular job in Florida” regarding roadway construction during the pandemic, increasing testing and focusing on vulnerable populations.
“Governors are well aware of how to expand testing now,” Birx said. “The governor described a really important insight; he went where the virus can cause the most damage to human beings, and he went into the nursing homes to proactively test.”
DeSantis also said the recent increase of cases in Brazil and South America has been a concern of his “throughout this whole time” as flights from those countries continue to land in Miami and through the summer.
Trump said he would work with DeSantis on airline testing or any potential travel bans.
“One of the things I’ve mentioned to the president is… maybe some of these airliners, it should be on them to check before they’re getting on and coming to this country,” DeSantis said.
“We’re watching and [DeSantis] will let us know,” Trump said. “We’ll be in touch on that. We’re in coordination with other governors also, but in particular with Ron; we’ll make a decision on that soon… That’s certainly a very big thing to do to Florida because you have so much business from South America.”
When faced with criticism on why he didn’t close beaches and businesses sooner, DeSantis replied, “You look at the most draconian orders that have been issued in some of these states, and compare Florida… everyone in the media was saying Florida would be like New York or Italy and that has not happened.”
DeSantis said that 6,500 ventilators are unused from the Florida stockpile, which Trump said will now be allocated to areas that still need ventilators.
Before finishing the meeting, DeSantis said Florida is making safety a priority as they release the steps to reopening the state.
“As people see that things can happen safely,” DeSantis said, “their confidence will go up.”
Here are the latest COVID-19 updates by the Florida Department of Health, as of Tuesday evening:
- 32,846 total cases in Florida
- 5,222 hospitalizations in Florida
- 1,171 deaths in Florida
Alachua County has one more confirmed case and two more hospitalizations since yesterday:
- 255 total cases
- 44 hospitalizations
- Two deaths
Find the full FDOH coronavirus dashboard here.