Ron DeSantis Denies Knowing Florida Desperately Needs Emergency Ventilators

Florida is being absolutely hammered by a preventable new wave of COVID cases.
August 11, 2021, 5:52pm
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an event to give out bonuses to first responders held at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside on August 10, 2021 in Surfside, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an event to give out bonuses to first responders held at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside on August 10, 2021 in Surfside, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Florida is currently the center of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, as the state has hit a record number of hospitalizations despite the widespread availability of the COVID vaccine. 

Things have gotten so bad that this week, multiple outlets have reported that the federal government is sending hundreds of ventilators to the state to help fight the surge. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has frequently spurned the advice of public health officials and taken a hard line against mask mandates and “vaccine passports,”  said Tuesday that he doesn’t know anything about them. 

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“I have not heard about that, so I have to check to see if that’s true or not,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “I would honestly doubt that that’s true, but I’ll look. We have a lot of stuff that we stockpiled over the last year and a half through the department of emergency management. I have not had any requests across my desk. I haven’t been notified of that.”

The Florida Department of Health requested 300 ventilators from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week, according to documents obtained by Broward County-based Local 10. The ventilators were expected to be delivered Monday. 

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on DeSantis’s claim. 

“I would note that as a policy we don’t send ventilators to states without their interest in receiving the ventilators,” Psaki told reporters. “I think the most important question here is, why would you oppose receiving the ventilators when you clearly need those in your state, given the percentage of hospitalizations that are occurring in Florida?”

The ventilator spat is just the latest in an ongoing fight between DeSantis, a potential frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, and the Biden administration. After DeSantis threatened to withhold paychecks from school officials and board members who bring back mask mandates to help slow the surge of COVID-19 cases, both President Joe Biden and Psaki said Tuesday that the administration was investigating whether it could fund the school districts anyway. 

And after the CDC issued a new round of recommendations last month saying that vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in areas with substantial and high COVID-19 transmission—which describes every single county in Florida and nearly 90 percent of the country as a whole—DeSantis mocked the new guidance during a speech at an American Legislative Exchange Council conference in Utah

“Did you not get the CDC’s memo?” DeSantis told a crowd of hundreds of unmasked people. “I don’t see you complying.”

More than 40,000 people in Florida have died and 14,000 are currently hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, according to the New York Times

Editor’s note: The headline of this piece has been updated for accuracy.