Rep. Matt Gaetz Joins Governor Ron DeSantis to Give COVID-19 Update at Escambia County Test Site

May 1, 2020
Press Release

Pensacola, FL — U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01) today participated in a press conference with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at the Escambia County COVID-19 test site, where he provided updates to Northwest Floridians on the federal and state efforts to combat COVID-19 and detailed how the Trump and DeSantis administrations’ priorities have aligned to meet the needs of Floridians.


Video of Congressman Gaetz’s remarks at the press conference along with a rough transcript may be found below.





Rough Transcript of Remarks


Governor DeSantis: I have Congressman Gaetz here whose been working really hard for the people of Northwest Florida and I know as we get into this phase one and continue to move forward. He's going to be there every step of the way supporting the people here, so I want to give him a chance to come up and say a few words


Congressman Gaetz: On March 29 just about a month ago a McClatchy reporter asked President Trump. How is it that the state of Florida seems to have fulfilled 100% of its requests for draw downs from the National strategic stockpile. And President Trump was very candid he said, “Look, Florida. They do a very good job. They're very aggressive in advocating for their people and for their positions.”


Governor in all the work we've done together, I've never been prouder than when the President acknowledges that our team working effectively to raise these concerns, results in better care for our residents and our constituents.


That work together, has been bipartisan very early on in this process. The reason we're able to launch mobile sites today is because we got ahead of the game and very early on in this process. I led a letter of the Florida congressional delegation that Republicans and Democrats signed on to that detailed out the specific things that would put us in a position to best respond to this crisis and Governor I was grateful that the Miami Herald was, was laudatory in their praise on the congressional delegation, but they criticized you, which was odd, because it was your administration that actually built the lists that we used to go and get the stuff from the federal government for our hospital systems, and for our frontline providers.


I know you also feel a special kinship with our guardsmen and women who are here today. I recall serving with you in the Congress and while some of us would return home for vacation, as a consequence of your additional service to the country you would go out and do drills, so I know you know the sacrifice they make to be away from their families and to be here serving our constituents,


There are a few areas where the governor's work the President's work has aligned specifically to meet some needs in Northwest Florida, and I want to highlight those. Because we were able to get draw downs on the front end, I can tell you that we had the CEO of Baptist Hospital able to get tests and swabs early, and he actually drove himself Mark Faulkner did over to Tallahassee, to the emergency operation center, where you would coordinate a testing on the front end that allowed us to be in a good position. I serve on the President's task force with the head of Ascension health care that's a major provider in our community.


Also, at the HCA systems that serve Okaloosa County, Twin Cities Hospital in Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, they were having challenges with their providers of testing equipment and reagents and Governor, it was your office, it was the division of emergency management that got on the phone, and actually created better connectivity, so that the purchase orders of Northwest Florida hospitals, would be met faster and that we got everything we need. And we were very successful in that.


And then I would also suggest that the offense that we're playing in nursing homes, and in long term care facilities is uniquely important to Northwest Floridians, I can tell you, Governor, anytime we've had, even the concern, even the whiff of this virus in one of our long term care facilities, your department of health has been there on time on target. I had one facility in the Twin Cities area that had like three and four visits from the Department of Health for triple and quadruple redundancy, to make sure that we were getting accurate test results.


I would finally thank you for your work with our local law enforcement. We got concerns early on, from our sheriff's from our police chiefs, that the, the migration of folks from Louisiana over to Northwest Florida could create a hotspot here that we would have to deal with. And when Sheriff Ashley of Okaloosa County called me to reflect on that concern, I immediately patched him into the governor, and in real time, the sheriff and the governor worked out the framework, not only for a strong executive order, but for an enforcement regime that protected our people in Northwest Florida from that substantial potential risk so thank you for doing that as well as the governor.


The Governor and I met briefly before and there are a couple of issues in Northwest Florida that we talked about the first is a vacation rentals in Northwest Florida. We don't have a 500 key hotel room every thousand feet, because of our density that we have, we're more reliant on vacation rentals. And I'm confident that in the governor's evidence-based, measured approach, the same approach he took on the front end of this virus, that as soon as it is safe and appropriate, and we enter new phases that the governor will work with our local communities to open vacation rentals.


Here is my advice to our counties and to our cities. If there are particular areas of advice or concern that you have. I would strongly encourage you to meet about those discuss them in public, even pass resolutions regarding the conduct that you think our community is ready for.


Throughout this entire process, Governor DeSantis has leaned heavily on the expertise and on the local knowledge of our local leaders, I've been in contact with our mayor about not only the health conditions but the economic conditions that we want to make sure that we really a bolster in the coming weeks and in the coming months and I know, Mayor Robinson would always say it's good to have a Navy guy like Governor DeSantis here in a great Navy Town of Pensacola so thank you for that great work governor I know we've got a lot of essential work ahead on the President's task force for myself and with your task force but we know that the brighter days for Florida are ahead of us.