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Ron DeSantis: Florida To Distribute 1 Million At-Home COVID-19 Tests For Vulnerable People

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Photo: Ron DeSantis’ Office

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis told Fox News on Thursday that his administration will be distributing 1 million at-home COVID-19 tests to the most vulnerable residents in his state as the Biden administration struggles to follow through on its commitment to send at-home tests to Americans.

“You know, the Biden administration promised they were going to send all these at-home tests. They said all you had to do was go online and get it. And nothing has happened in a month and a half with doing that,” DeSantis said. “And so, we looked at it in Florida and say, you know, the point of matter is not every single person needs to be going out always getting tested. You have healthy people. That’s not a good strategy. But what is a good strategy is to have these at-home tests available for our vulnerable population.”

“And so, we’ve secured a million at-home tests and we’re going to be distributing them to nursing homes and long-term care facilities throughout the state of Florida, and then to the broader senior communities throughout our population. Because we view testing as something that should lead to, then, a clinical result,” DeSantis continued. “And so, we’ve embraced early treatments in Florida. So if you have somebody that’s elderly that may be vulnerable to COVID they can get a quick test in-home and don’t got to wait in line. And then if they’re positive they have the ability, potentially, to get treatments. Now, we would like to have more treatments, but the federal government is being very scarce with those, and so we’re fighting for more so that Floridians get what they need.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX & FRIENDS CO-HOST: Let’s bring in Florida governor, Ron DeSantis. He knows all about the challenges of getting therapeutics for his state, as well as testing. Governor, always great to see you.

At the — even your critics would say you are a man of action. We’re in a nationwide shortage when it comes to tests. Do you have something to say to the people of Florida?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Yes, Brian. You know, the Biden administration promised they were going to send all these at-home tests. They said all you had to do was go online and get it. And nothing has happened in a month and a half with doing that.

And so, we looked at it in Florida and say, you know, the point of matter is not every single person needs to be going out always getting tested. You have healthy people. That’s not a good strategy. But what is a good strategy is to have these at-home tests available for our vulnerable population.

And so, we’ve secured a million at-home tests and we’re going to be distributing them to nursing homes and long-term care facilities throughout the state of Florida, and then to the broader senior communities throughout our population. Because we view testing as something that should lead to, then, a clinical result.

And so, we’ve embraced early treatments in Florida. So if you have somebody that’s elderly that may be vulnerable to COVID they can get a quick test in-home and don’t got to wait in line. And then if they’re positive they have the ability, potentially, to get treatments. Now, we would like to have more treatments but the federal government is being very scarce with those and so we’re fighting for more so that Floridians get what they need.

STEVE DOOCY, FOX & FRIENDS CO-HOST: Sure, absolutely. And so, it’s amazing that you’re able to announce details before the federal government is because you would think the federal government — you know, they’re the whole enchilada. They should be able to do things, whereas you have taken, obviously, matters into your own hands to try to get it to the people.

But, you know, I like the — what you have just said regarding the fact that you are — not everybody needs to be tested, but the vulnerable do. Because ultimately, what we’re seeing with the Omicron is —

You know, my whole family had it around Christmastime and we didn’t know we had it. And it wasn’t until one of us got — I got the first test. Where it’s like OK, you need to keep away from your family. It was too late. I’d already infected everybody. But you’ve got to stay away from grandma.

And that’s what you’re talking about with the most vulnerable because people do need to be vaccinated, boosted, and tested to keep everybody safe.

DESANTIS: Well, and that’s the thing. I think you have a situation where Omicron, thankfully, is much less pathogenic than Delta. You see it dramatically — fewer hospital admissions. And a lot of the hospital admissions in Florida and around the country are people who are getting admitted for something else and just happen to test positive, but they’re not actually sick enough —

KILMEADE: Right.

DESANTIS: — from COVID to be treated in a hospital. And so, that is, in many ways, a good development for how this thing has evolved.

But you do have vulnerable people and elderly people, and those are the folks that we want to make sure that we’re able to help.

But the idea that somehow if you’re just a young and healthy person you just need to be going out and getting tested four or five times a week, or that you should force people to test to be able to go to school or to be able to do their job — that is not a good use of resources. And that’s part of the reason why you’re seeing the shortage because you have a lot of low-value testing going on.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX & FRIENDS CO-HOST: So, Governor, there’s an article in “Vanity Fair” that says in October, there was a proposal. They approached Biden about you need to buy a lot of these tests. You need to buy 732 million tests because we need to be prepared for the holiday surge.

So many — I know a lot of New Yorkers went down to Florida. I’m sure a lot of others did, too, because people didn’t want to go out of the country because you couldn’t come back in if you were positive, and you could be positive for months. So this put a lot of pressure on you and your state to make sure you had a lot of these tests.

We all came down there. We were looking for tests. In the middle of the vacation, the tests were gone at CVS and at Walgreens, and at grocery stores and Kroger. And we would get phone calls they have them at Kroger this morning. We would rush over there and they’d just sold out.

So, now that you’ve ordered all of these extra tests, when can we expect those to be in the Krogers and in the Walgreens or CVS down there?

DESANTIS: Well, these will likely go to — we’re going to go to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and then likely, go to local communities where they can focus them on elderly people.

I agree. I think we need to have the shelves restocked commercially. We had had really no problem with that for months and months, but because Omicron is so widespread, you see that.

I think that there actually will be some catch-up on that, Ainsley, because I think there was an initial panic when Omicron hit. There was a lot of media hysteria. And now, I think people are starting —

EARHARDT: That’s true.

DESANTIS: — to understand — hey, this is something that’s out there but for most people, it is more akin to a cold or a flu, and that’s a great thing. And so, you don’t necessarily need to be going out and doing these tests for no reason. Test if there’s a reason, clinically, to be able to generate an outcome.

And so, I think what we did will be helpful but I do think you’re going to start to see more and more of those tests in the stores.

KILMEADE: A couple of things, Governor. You mentioned therapeutics. You mentioned the monoclonal antibodies.

Also, the Pfizer. He ordered another 10 million Pfizer. We have 20 million Pfizer pills. You need five pills in 30 days once you get this. So, Steve wouldn’t have this or anyone watching us right now — the Omicron. You’d get right through it quickly.

And now, you see the pullback on therapeutics. The president was dismissive — oh, you’re not going to need the pills but we have the pills.

Why do you think the federal government does not want us to have therapeutics?

DESANTIS: Well, I think if you look back, there’s a number of big failures in this pandemic. The school closures, which I know you guys were talking about. You know, some of the lockdown policies, of course.

But the failure from the outset to really focus on therapeutics, I think has cost a huge number of lives. It was almost like they said lock down, masks, and then once vaccines came, vaccine — and that was it. And as we’ve seen now, particularly with Omicron, is people are still getting infected regardless of their vaccination status. So you need to have an emphasis —

KILMEADE: Right.

DESANTIS: — on therapeutics.

I just think it’s counter to their messaging and their narrative.

KILMEADE: Is it intentional?

DESANTIS: When I rolled out our monoclonal antibody sites over the summer they attacked me because they said oh, then, this is not — you’re against vaccine if you’re for therapeutics when actually, we had a lot of vaccinated people that were going. It wasn’t all unvaccinated. But regardless, you want to have treatment options.

And so, in Florida, we’ve really stressed —

DOOCY: Right.

DESANTIS: — that. Our surgeon general, Joe Ladapo has done a good job talking about it.

But yes, it’s been a huge, huge problem from the pandemic response and particularly under the Biden administration, where not only are they not promoting therapeutics, they’re actively trying to stymie the distribution of things like monoclonal antibodies to states like Florida and Texas.

KILMEADE: That’s criminal. People are dying. People are dying —

EARHARDT: It is criminal.

KILMEADE: — because of this.

EARHARDT: That is criminal.

DOOCY: Well, and, you know, Governor, here’s the thing.

DESANTIS: No question. For so long, people didn’t even know that there were options for treatment. When we rolled out the sites we started getting messages to my office from other states — people saying hey, I didn’t even know this was out there. Can you help me get it in my state?

DOOCY: Yes.

DESANTIS: And that’s real, real problem that people didn’t know that there was help available.

DOOCY: Well, and the federal government, obviously, Governor, knew there was going to be trouble right about now because Joe Biden, a couple of months ago, said we’re entering the winter of death and it’s going to be a winter of severe illness.

But then, yesterday or the day before, Joe Biden said hey, we know it’s bad but give us more time so we can get the tests out, so we can get the Pfizer pills out, and things like that.

But, you know, that’s why he was elected. He and Ron Klain made the pitch when they were running — when he was running as — for president and Ron Klain was one of his assistants. He said, you know, hire me because I’ve been in government my whole life and I can get stuff done.

And now, I think that’s the frustration not only down in Florida but all across the country because the federal government has handled it so badly. There are a lot of people who want tests, who want treatment, and can’t get it.

DESANTIS: His promise was he would shut down the virus. And he demagogued Donald Trump every day. He blamed Trump for COVID cases and deaths. He didn’t blame China, which is really where the blame belongs.

But he said it was all Trump’s fault and then he would shut it down. And not only has he not shut it down, you have cases and hospitalizations in parts of the country like we’ve never seen before.

So that fundamental promise he made to the American people — he has absolutely failed upon. And honestly, it was demagoguery from the beginning. You can’t just magically shut down a respiratory virus. He should have talked about what he would do to help mitigate and to provide these treatments, and that wasn’t what he was doing.

So, that central promise has failed. He should not have been demagoguing Trump like he did. And now, when he sees the results he’s saying well, it’s not really the federal government’s responsibility. It’s all about —

DOOCY: Right.

DESANTIS: — what the state should be doing.

I can tell you, Steve, that’s not what he was saying to Florida and Texas this summer. He was blaming us for not —

KILMEADE: Yes.

DESANTIS: — imposing mandates and restrictions, even though we’ve done much better in terms of our — a society, and economy, and education.

So, that’s just what they’re doing and I think they’ve got themselves in a big rut because they made all these grand promises. They used it to try to win the election. And now, the bills are coming due and they’re just not able to cash the checks.

EARHARDT: So, Rep. Eric Swalwell, out in California — he was, just a few days ago, blaming the Republicans for prolonging COVID.

This was what he tweeted out. “As we end 2021 mired in a deadly pandemic, you should know who has prolonged it — these guys — Republican liars. Your vacation canceled. Your kids back to virtual learning. And back to masks everywhere. For blame, look no farther than #TheseGuys.”

Yet, he travels to Florida and he is caught without a mask as he’s sitting down —

KILMEADE: Oops.

EARHARDT: — in a chair — not at a dinner table — talking to this lady here with his baby next to him — no mask.

AOC recently was down there right after the Christmas break or New Year’s and she was seen without a mask and hugging people and having — which you’re allowed to take your mask off at a — at a dinner table, so that was fine. But hugging people at this party or at this club and dancing around — no mask.

And then I heard you — I think you were on with Sean on Fox and you said there were six governors that you know of from some of these Democratic states that you know have been down in the state of Florida vacationing.

So what do you make of this rules for the not — rules for thee and not for me?

DESANTIS: Well, Ainsley, the number of lockdown politicians that have locked down their people, lectured their people, cast aspersions on Florida, who then turn around and then seek refuge in Florida, it’s so much it’s become a cottage industry. I mean, you have governors, you have mayors, you have members of Congress. They say one thing and then they live under different sets of rules.

And I think the thing about Florida, as we’ve said, you have the ability to make your own decisions. We are not going to use the heavy hand of government to curtail your freedoms or to ruin your livelihoods. And those policies were policies that all those people railed against and yet, they’ll come down here —

DOOCY: Right.

DESANTIS: — and bask in the Florida sunshine and the Florida freedom.

So, I’m glad that Florida is a refuge for people. I mean, you know, we are — we’re happy with what we’re doing. But it really shows you that this is a

DOOCY: Right.

DESANTIS: — ruling class mentality where they think that they can impose these on other people but that they should not have to follow all the dictates that they constantly spout.

KILMEADE: I know. You’re running a state, and you are also trying to run a family, and your wife Casey is going through cancer treatment. I know how tough things have been.

EARHARDT: Yes, God bless.

KILMEADE: Please let — just know we’re pulling for you and we know how to — especially with a young family there is no time-outs. So, best of luck with the treatments.

DESANTIS: Well, no. The outpouring for my wife has been fantastic — a lot of your viewers. And just know she and I very much appreciate that. It makes a difference. And the prayers make a big difference. So, thanks, everybody —

EARHARDT: Yes.

KILMEADE: Right.

DESANTIS: — who’s had our back.

KILMEADE: Thank you.

Governor, thanks for joining us today.

DESANTIS: Thank you.

KILMEADE: You got it. Governor Ron DeSantis.

EARHARDT: Thank you.

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