TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida will distribute one million N95 face masks and other personal protective equipment that is desperately needed for health care workers on the front line of the fight against COVID-19.
“Working with the White House, they’ve earmarked us a million (masks), we have 800,000 of that shipment in hand,” DeSantis said Tuesday during his daily press conference. “When this all started, we had had millions of these masks ordered. We would be told they would be delivered on Friday then you’d go and they disappear. That’s been a real real problem how the secondary markets work, but I’m glad we were able to work this out with the White House.”
In addition to the masks, the state’s emergency management division plans to deliver other supplies including 1.2 million procedure masks, 100,000 face shields 500,000 gloves, 60,000 containers of hand sanitizer 35,000 gowns in the next 36 hours, DeSantis said.
“That is a massive amount of equipment,” he said. “It’s more than the division has ever done in Florida’s history.”
DeSantis also gave an update on a newly formed task force put in place to aggressively test employees and patients at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The 10 teams created by the Florida National Guard will supplement 30 paramedics who have already been conducting such tests.
On Tuesday, the team took samples from 500 people, DeSantis said.
There were 1,135 cases of COVID-19 reported in Florida long-term care facilities as of Tuesday morning.
“We want to expand that as widely as we can, it’s very, very important that we focus resources on those people who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19,” DeSantis said.
Jared Moskowitz, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said Florida is continuing to work on expanding testing. He also said that the measures put in place by the state are having a positive effect on slowing down the spread of COVID-19.
“The mitigation measures are we’re working. We are flattening that curve. Florida has a good story to tell on what’s been working,” Moskowitz said. "We have to stay the course. Remember, April 30 is the 30 days to stop the spread and so, even while we talk about the good news that is happening here in the state of Florida, we still need people to continue the social distancing.
“We’re mindful that there are still many families out there that are suffering with this and have loved ones in hospitals and so, as we talk about that good news, we’re not turning the page on anybody and so it’s important that we continue to focus on the folks that are dealing with COVID-19.”
Florida has spent about $500 million on emergency supplies and support for the COVID-19 pandemic, Moskowitz said.