Remarks by Vice President in Briefing with Governor DeSantis of Florida on COVID-19

Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation

University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Governor DeSantis, thank you for your leadership. Thank you for bringing your team together.

And I want to thank Tampa General and the University of South Florida not just for your hospitality today, but for all you’re doing every day for the health and wellbeing of the people of Florida.

Governor, the President wanted me to be here to say to you and to the people of Florida: We’re with you, and we’re going to make sure you have whatever you need to meet this moment.

From early on in this pandemic, the people of Florida can be proud of the partnership that we have forged. You speak, Governor, about 60,000 tests a day being performed here in Florida, and I want to commend you for the innovative efforts that Florida implemented months ago to expand testing in this state. And I want to promise you we’re going to continue — we’re going to continue to find ways to scale testing all across the state, to go from diagnostic testing to even surveillance testing in this state.

I also want the people in Florida to know that we’re in a much better place, thanks to the leadership of President Trump, the innovation of American industry, and to the partnership that we’ve forged in — not just in testing, but in personal protective equipment.

Encouraged to hear your hospital capacity remains strong here in Florida. But in our briefing today, we’re interested to hear how we can be more supportive of that so that no Floridian would be concerned, even as we see cases rising, that a loved one or a friend would ever be at risk of not receiving the healthcare that we’d want any member of our family to receive.

We’re also here, Governor, to make it clear that we fully support the prudent steps that you are taking to slow the spread here in Florida and the consistent message, particularly to young people. I have three 20-somethings in my family, and I know the strong independent streak of young people. I know the desire young people to socialize as we approach this Independence Day weekend.

Heeding the guidance of practicing social distancing. Wear a mask if you’re not able to practice social distancing, or wear a mask if state and local authorities direct you to do so in the situation that you’re in. It’s always a good idea to practice these principles of personal hygiene and wash your hands.

And to the young people here in Florida, I know — I know, Governor, your message has been very clear. We all know that, for younger Americans, especially those without underlying health challenges, the risk of a serious outcome with the coronavirus is fairly small. But no young person would ever want to unintentionally infect a mom, a dad, a grandmother, a grandfather, or an elderly friend. And that’s — that’s really what we’re about today.

And with regard to the elderly, I’d be remiss, Governor, if we didn’t tell you that — with the Secretary of Health and Human Services here, with members of our task force here — how grateful we all are with the focus that you and that the State of Florida has placed on the most vulnerable from the very beginning.

We know that one life lost is too many, and we grieve the loss of life here in Florida and across our nation. But the fact that that you’ve been able to protect, particularly people in long-term care and senior citizens in the way that you have is a great credit to your entire team, and it’s a great credit to the people of Florida. And we want to — we want to talk today about ways that we can continue to support your efforts to protect the most vulnerable.

But, Governor, we’re here because President Trump wanted us to come to make sure that you and the State of Florida and the people of this great state have what you need, when you need it.

We’re all in this together; we have been from the beginning. And even as we saw evidenced today in those remarkable job numbers — nearly 5 million jobs created in the last month — Florida and all of America is proving that we can meet this moment, we can slow the spread, we can flatten the curve in Florida just as we flattened it in other parts of the country, even while we continue — continue to rebuild our economy and help Americans get back to school and back to work.

So we look forward to the briefing. We look forward to the discussion. And, Governor DeSantis, again, I want to thank you for your tireless leadership on behalf of the health and wellbeing of the people of Florida. We’re all very grateful.

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