After weeks of being MIA during an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases in his state, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference in Fort Lauderdale Monday.
He spent much of his time, as did his stunningly anti-science surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, dismissing COVID-19 vaccines as a help, downplaying the severity of symptoms of the omicron variant, and whining and complaining about how the federal government isn’t giving him the monoclonal treatment meds he’s convinced he needs.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who oversees Orlando County, the largest in the state, ripped into DeSantis Tuesday, demanding to know where the governor was and why he wasn’t offering any help.
“Our residents, all Florida residents, should be outraged, and they should ask the question, ‘Where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?’ When is the last time you saw the governor do a press briefing on COVID-19?” Demings said at a press conference.
Miami-Dade had officially hit a 25 percent positivity rate, meaning one in four tests has returned positive in the last week.
DeSantis continues to advocate for COVID-19 treatment—meaning monoclonal antibody, specifically Regeneron, treatments—versus vaccinations, masks, social distancing, and virtual gatherings as prevention or as a way of minimizing illness. He repeatedly said Monday he would open more sites to offer treatment, but only based on what the state would be provided by the federal government.
DeSantis, along with Sen. Marco Rubio, has been going on and on for months about how they’re begging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to reverse course on the November decision to ration monoclonal antibody (mAb) drugs for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19.
DeSantis went on to make light of the COVID-19 cases, and again blamed the federal government for the lack of home tests, but took no responsibility for the lack of testing centers in the state.
What DeSantis left out of his finger-pointing presser was that vaccines and boosters are significant when it comes to how sick you get, with omicron or any known variant of COVID-19.
DeSantis also attempted to divert blame and diminish stunning coronavirus cases as just something that happened when patients are admitted, for one thing, get tested, and find out they have COVID-19.
According to a new study done in the U.K., COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization from omicron across the board, and a booster dose provides the highest level of protection.
The study analyzed more than 528,000 omicron cases and 573,000 delta cases from November 22 through December 26 in England.
Ladapo admitted that hospitalizations weren’t nearly as high as case numbers in the state, which is likely due to vaccines and boosters, but instead focused on the reversal of the “completely senseless” decision of the federal government to withhold “effective treatments” for people.
In reality, there was a pause on Sotrovimab shipments for about three weeks, but by December 17, the federal government resumed shipping, distributing about 1,000 doses to Florida, and on December 27, another 2,580 doses.
Federal data shows that Florida hospitals also have nearly 10,000 doses of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment on hand, and about 4,000 doses of Eli Lilly’s treatment. However, according to the Tampa Bay Times, those therapies have not proven to be effective against the omicron variant of the virus, leaving an overwhelming demand for GlaxoSmithKline’s Sotrovimab.
Ladapo spoke extensively about treatments but refused to discuss using masks or getting vaccines.
”It’s time for people to be living and make the decision they want regarding vaccination and enjoy the fact that many people have natural immunity and unwind this preoccupation with only Covid as determining the boundaries and constraints and possibilities of life,” Ladapo said.
The surgeon general then went on to talk about “low-value” COVID-19 testing versus “high-value” testing. Meaning that older and more at-risk people should get tests versus children and healthier adults.
Again, in reality, Ladapo’s comments are 100 percent irresponsible and inaccurate. Bloomberg reports pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen to record levels in the omicron surge, amplifying the need for kids to get boosters and vaccines.
New hospital admissions of kids with COVID-19 have increased 66 percent to 378 a day on average for the week ending Tuesday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The last peak occurred in early September at a daily count of 342.
On Monday, the FDA authorized Pfizer booster vaccines for kids 12 to 15.
“The majority of our hospitalized kids are in the hospital because they are sick with COVID symptoms,” Roberta DeBiasi, the hospital’s infectious disease chief told Bloomberg. She added that it’s rare for children to arrive for another reason and be incidentally diagnosed with COVID-19.
“We occasionally have someone who, for instance, was here for surgery or trauma and was noted to be positive for Covid, but that is not very common,” said DeBiasi.
Ladapo defended Regeneron, saying that there’s “a difference between laboratory data and clinical data,” and alleging that perhaps monoclonal treatments were withheld because the head of HHS, Becerra doesn’t have a clinical background.
DeSantis finished the press conference declaring that Florida schools would not close and should not have mitigations. He railed against masks, particularly cloth masks—which the CDC has recently said aren’t as effective for omicron and urged the public to up their mask game. “I think they have a right to breathe,” DeSantis said, referring to mask usage.
”Let’s just be honest with people. When you have something that’s this widespread that is airborne, simply putting a cloth over [their faces] and thinking that it will somehow provide good protection, that’s just not accurate,” DeSantis said about what he called “draconian policies.”
DeSantis ended by slamming vaccine passports, saying they haven’t worked and that not having them is the reason people enjoy traveling to Florida.
Watch the entire DeSantis address below:
Florida Governor Ron Desantis Offers Lies and Blame on Omicron
Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos