TAMPA, Fla. — Getting the attention of Governor Ron DeSantis hasn’t been very successful lately.
“I’m disappointed in my governor because that’s not the way he’s run the state before, that’s not the way he’s run this pandemic, but that’s what’s happening right now,” said Mary Daniel, the founder of Caregivers for Compromise.
She is extremely supportive of the governor and how he’s handled the pandemic so far, but she says a lack of communication is now keeping many people in the dark.
“We have been trying to get in touch with him to get some direction for us regarding the holiday visitation that has been promised to us in the recent emergency order and I’m not able to get any sort of response,” she said.
The Governor has sent out a series of pre-recorded videos in which he announces pandemic updates. The most recent describes his conversations with CVS and Walgreens and their plans to get residents and staff at long-term care facilities vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Part of being transparent is just being able to ask an innocent question at any given moment and just hearing with the answer,” said Veronica Catoe, the CEO of the Florida Assisted Living Association.
Catoe didn’t realize journalists weren’t in the room, and able to ask the Governor questions as he gives these important updates in these pre-recorded videos.
“As a citizen of the state of Florida I would like to know that someone is there as my advocate to be able to ask those questions,” Catoe said.
This makes three weeks since the Governor has held a news conference, and nearly one month since he gave an in-person update on the coronavirus.
Catoe has questions of her own when it comes to the distribution.
“Will Walgreens and CVS give all three vaccines at some point, will they return to a facility if they’ve already made one visit to offer the Pfizer, will they be able to come back and offer them the Moderna or the Johnson and Johnson?” she asked.
She’s confident the Department of Health will have an answer soon.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says communication with the state's emergency manager has been open and efficient and says a lack of communication with the Governor will have no impact on the distribution of vaccines locally, but says the task will be a challenge.
“It’s going to come fast and furious. You can look at a percentage that seems relatively small, to get 5% of our community vaccinated — but, when you put that into sheer numbers and be able to do that practically out in the community it’s going to be a heavy lift,” Mayor Castor said. “But again, we benefit from having everyone work in collaboration here in the Tampa Bay area.”
We reached out to Governor DeSantis to ask him what the plan is if a resident or staff member refuses to take the vaccine, but we’ve yet to hear back.
Catoe says you can bet facilities will be doing all they can to get everyone vaccinated but say it’s not mandated.
“I can pretty much say that the majority will be encouraging them to take it if they are comfortable with it,” Catoe said.
Mayor Castor is asking folks to not go out to the bars tonight, and not gather on Thanksgiving.
“Were in the holiday season, everybody has COVID fatigue but we plead with everyone just another month and a half, another month and a half and we can literally cut the number of COVID cases in half and that’s going to translate to a lot of people who will not lose their lives,” she said.