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DeSantis walks out of unemployment news conference as reporters ask questions

Posted at 5:46 AM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 05:46:54-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla -- A big part of our commitment to you with The Rebound Southwest Florida is holding state leaders accountable. It’s why we want you to see this story.

Tuesday, the governor held a news conference to talk about unemployment. But when it came time for reporter questions, he walked right out!

The governor had promised the news conference would shed light on “more good news” when it comes to the state’s unemployment crisis.

For about 30 minutes, he broke down new data that suggests nearly all eligible applicants have been paid, about 97%.

But you’ll remember Tuesday, Fox 4 told you DeSanits had asked reporters to compile a list of anyone who says they should be receiving benefits, but haven’t. We told you that list had grown to thousands of Floridians.

Fox 4’s Jessica Alpern asked those experiencing this issue in Southwest Florida to email her Tuesday, and several emails have poured in.

But when it came time for the media ask questions and to follow up about things like this at his Tallahassee news conference Tuesday, the governor walked out. After acknowledging that he anticipated there would be a lot of questions, he left and deferred all questions to Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter.

Typically DeSantis stays put for reporter questions, but that was not the case Tuesday. Instead, Satter fieled all questions including what could be said to the many people stuck in limbo, waiting to be verified. There’s a large backlog due to this. And people experiencing this issue say they’re still unable to get through to someone on the phone to help.

Satter said they’re working on a new tool with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which will become available in coming days and should allow applicants to go online and verify their identity, which he said should help clear the backlog.

Before leaving the news conference, DeSantis also said more than 400,000 people who have applied are not eligible, citing reasons like incomplete information or fraud. But again, he left before giving reporters a chance to follow up with him on that list of applicants that he told them to create.

If you have questions about your claim, you can still email Fox 4’s Jessica Alpern at Jessica.Alpern@Fox4Now.com. Email your name, claimant ID, and contact information (phone or email). Alpern is following up with the DEO on each of those emails.

Following Fox 4 Morning News at 8 on Wednesday, Alpern and Chris Shaw will also be doing a Facebook Live on the issue, along with other ways Fox 4 is working to help you rebound from the coronavirus crisis.