Here's what Gov. DeSantis talked about in his Fort Myers visit

Posted at 7:49 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 12:55:49-04

FORT MYERS — Today, Governor DeSantis stopped by Gulf Coast Medical Center to give an update on the state response to COVID-19.

He addressed testing, and why he made the decision to partially re-open many parts of the state. He also talked about progress in getting people paid through the state unemployment system.

Speaking specifically about Lee County, DeSantis said CenturyLink Stadium is testing an average of 600 people a day, but it could handle more than 700, so he said there’s plenty of capacity. DeSantis also pushed back against the idea that he opened any counties prematurely.

The average time at the testing center is thirty minutes or less and you do not need to have symptoms or doctor's orders. The test is free and there is plenty tests of available.

“When you understand what hospitals are seeing on the ground, that’s how you make these decisions, but let’s just be honest, the models have not been accurate," said DeSantis.

At Gulf Coast Medical Center, elective surgeries increased by 50% last week after DeSantis lifted the ban. Lee Health CEO, Dr. Larry Antonucci, said they’re making sure those patients are not getting cross-contaminated.

“We have separate, isolated areas for our COVID patients, so we keep them in areas that we call our “cohort”. And so all the COVID patients stay in the same place with the same staff. In addition, all of our staff members are fully covered in PPE throughout the health system, and we’re screening all of our staff members every day by taking their temperature," said Antonucci.

DeSantis also addressed the continuing problems with the state unemployment system. We asked him directly why, as of today, more than 32% of applicants are getting rejected.

“We’ve got people applying from foreign countries who have never even been to Florida. We’ve got people applying from other states who’ve never, that we can tell, have ever even worked in Florida, so there’s just a lot of things that you have to go through in terms of fraud detection," said DeSantis.

DeSantis said, this past weekend, a record number of people did see their unemployment payment come through.

“I think that, to pay out almost $450 million in one weekend I think is much better progress I think compared to 6 weeks ago when the system was basically dead," said DeSantis.

DeSantis was also asked about what the lack of sales tax revenue statewide could mean for individual counties. He said that will have to wait for the next budget cycle, because he does not anticipate that a special session of the state legislature will be called.

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