You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

DeSantis blames feds for COVID treatment, testing shortages as omicron spreads

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 1/3/2022 Gray Rohrer, Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday said he’s waiting on the federal government to send COVID-19 treatments to re-establish sites for residents to combat the virus. He also blamed the federal government for a shortage of tests that have led to long lines and runs on at-home testing kits as the omicron variant courses through the state.

“We will turn on additional sites as soon as the federal government gives us the supply,” DeSantis told reporters at a Fort Lauderdale hospital, adding that between 30,000 and 40,000 doses of monoclonal antibody treatments have been pledged. “It’s all locked and loaded; it’s just a matter of the federal government giving us more doses.”

For the first two days of 2022, Florida reported 85,707 new COVID-19 cases. Hospitalizations rose to 5,759. Florida’s seven-day average of new cases has sharply increased since Dec. 15 — when it was 3,306 — to 51,873 as of Sunday.

DeSantis, though, pointed to early evidence of the omicron variant in South Africa causing less severe symptoms despite spreading more rapidly than previous variants.

DeSantis didn’t say when he expects the doses to arrive but said he’ll set up treatment sites in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties as well as a site in Central Florida “the next day.”

DeSantis criticized an earlier decision by President Joe Biden’s administration to withhold some monoclonal antibody doses to states because initial data in some studies show they aren’t as effective against the omicron variant as they are against the delta variant.

Florida Surgeon General Joe Ladapo wrote to the Health and Human Services Department last week, noting the delta variant is still infecting residents. The agency later said it would continue to send the treatments, but they haven’t yet arrived.

Video: DeSantis discusses pre-exposure treatment for COVID-19 (WESH Orlando)


A spokesperson for HHS did not return an email seeking comment Monday.

DeSantis also chided the Biden administration for what he called the testing “crunch” and said Ladapo will be putting out guidance on who should get tested that focuses on patients who would be more likely to suffer severe symptoms, such as the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

Ladapo said the guidance wouldn’t “restrict access to testing” but would seek to “unwind the testing psychology that our federal leadership has managed to unfortunately get most of the country in over the last two years.”

“We need to unwind this testing – planning and living one’s life around testing,” he added. “Without it, we’re going to be stuck in this same cycle. It’s time for people to be living.”

DeSantis also addressed the criticism from Democrats last week that he wasn’t responding to the spread of the omicron variant and the shortages in testing quickly enough. His office noted he was spending time with his family over the Christmas holidays. DeSantis said Monday he had accompanied his wife, Casey, to a chemotherapy treatment for her breast cancer diagnosis.

“She’s there for a long time,” DeSantis said. “I mean I’m there most of the time, but it’s a draining thing. When she’s done with it, it’s not something that’s great to see. And so I just think a lot of people, particularly people that have gone through breast cancer treatments, the notion that that would be considered a vacation is offensive to a lot of those folks.”

DeSantis also defended his wife’s decision to attend a religious band concert on New Year’s Eve with him, saying she’s “committed to not being in the fetal position the whole time.”

He shrugged off the criticism of his handling of the latest variant.

“When you’re in a political arena, sometimes you’re fortunate in the enemies that you have because, you know, these are folks that are just not shooting straight right now.”

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon