Since the emergence of COVID-19 in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has remained in constant communication with State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees, public health officials at the local, state and federal levels and executive agency leaders. On March 1, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-51 which directed Surgeon General Rivkees to declare a public health emergency to better equip Florida with the resources needed to handle this public health threat.
“The State of Florida is fully committed to leveraging all resources to prepare for and respond to COVID-19. Our state agencies and personnel have been monitoring COVID-19 since January and are focused on containment and prevention,” said Governor DeSantis. “Dr. Rivkees, along with his staff of public health experts, is working with our federal partners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in addition to our partners and stakeholders across the state.”
“While the threat COVID-19 poses to Florida remains low, I applaud the Governor for his immediate action to coordinate the statewide response which will be required to successfully contain the spread of the virus in Florida,” said Florida State Surgeon General Dr. Scott A. Rivkees. “As of today, we are only seeing isolated cases without any cases resulting from community transmission. Those who remain most at risk are elderly individuals and those with underlying medical conditions. I urge everyone to practice good hygiene including thorough handwashing after shaking hands or touching surfaces as one of the easiest and most effective measures to prevent illness from COVID-19 and other viral infections.”
Governor DeSantis’ Actions
- Issued Executive Order 20-51 directing Surgeon General Rivkees to declare a Public Health Emergency to better equip our state with the resources needed to handle COVID-19.
- Requested funding from the state legislature and federal government to ensure the state has the means to test for COVID-19 as quickly as possible and ability to effectively communicate with the public about how to stay healthy.
- Requesting $25 million from the Florida Legislature to be appropriated in this current year for the Florida Department of Health to be used immediately to assist with the COVID-19 response.
- Attended meeting with Vice President Mike Pence along with Lieutenant Governor Nuñez, Surgeon General Rivkees, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Assistant Surgeon General Admiral Stephen Redd in Palm Beach to discuss preparedness efforts.
- Conducted meeting with agency heads from the Department of Health, Department of Elder Affairs, Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Education, Department of Children and Families, Division of Emergency Management and Department of Corrections to discuss coordinated response.
- Held press conferences in Tampa and Miami with the Lieutenant Governor, Surgeon General Rivkees and Deputy Secretary of Health Dr. Shamarial Roberson to provide an update and answer questions from the media.
- Toured the Florida Department of Health Public Laboratory in Tampa with the Lieutenant Governor, State Surgeon General, Dr. Roberson and Senator Janet Cruz.
- Visited the Department of Health in Orange County and Collier County to meet with local public health leaders to discuss preparedness.
- Participated in a conference call with Vice President Pence and other governors regarding COVID-19.
- Hosted a conference call with nursing home providers and the Florida Medical Association to provide guidance regarding COVID-19.
- Provided guidance to superintendents on a conference call with the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.
- Participated on a call with the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary Thibault and the Department of Transportation to advise seaports and public use airports regarding COVID-19.