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Gov. Ron DeSantis praises restaurant workers during visit to Okeechobee Steakhouse in West Palm Beach

370,000 Moderna vaccine doses could come to Florida by next week, governor says
Gov. Ron DeSantis West Palm Beach news conference at Okeechobee Steakhouse, 12-15-20
Posted at 2:02 PM, Dec 15, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke Tuesday in West Palm Beach, praising restaurant workers and others in the service industry and reinforced his position that Florida is open for business.

DeSantis held the afternoon news conference at Okeechobee Steakhouse, located at 2854 Okeechobee Blvd.

He was joined by cooks, waitresses, and the owner of the steakhouse, saying the closures of restaurants in other states will not happen in Florida.

"Some may want to shut you down, we want to pull you up. We've got your back, if you're somebody who's a waitress or a cook or [have] a family-owned business. You are an important part of our state," DeSantis said.

NEWS CONFERENCE: Gov. DeSantis praises restaurant workers in West Palm Beach (33 minutes)

The governor said evidence does not point toward shutting down restaurants to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

"Most of the contact tracing that's been done has restaurants very low in terms of where these infections can be traced to," DeSantis said. "The vast, vast majority [of coronavirus cases] are occurring in people's homes, particularly if you have people getting together."

He vehemently pushed back on any local measures to shut down businesses.

"If a local leader wants to put them out of work, you are damn right I am hobbling them from doing that. If they want to shut down businesses, I am going to stand in the way. I am going to stand with these folks here because they have a right to make a living. I don't think the government has a right to put these folks out of work and not let them put food on the table for their family. That's a basic thing that I think everyone in Florida has the right to do," the governor said.

After speaking to the FDA commissioner, DeSantis said he expects the Moderna vaccine will be approved this week, clearing the way for 530,000 more doses for the state in December, including 370,000 doses by next week.

Combining Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines, he said Florida could have one million doses by the end of the month.

"I believe you can get a big chunk of the at-risk, the senior population, and you do the nursing homes, the mortality on this thing is going to crater, so that's a really good first step. In terms of getting it widely available. I think the trick is going to need to the EUA [emergency use authorization] for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine."

The governor says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-shot vaccine, and FDA approval could come in January.

State officials will make an announcement Wednesday about vaccine distribution to residents of nursing homes, the governor said.

"We really want to get (the vaccine) out to the broader senior community here in the state of Florida," DeSantis.

The governor said experts who predicted a large spike in cases after Thanksgiving were wrong, and "it's actually gone down."