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DeSantis Unveils ‘Crunch Time’ COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

The state started the day with 260,655 residents having received the first of two shots immunizing them against the deadly virus that had killed almost 22,000 people statewide. About 21.5 million people live in Florida.

by Mark Harper, The Daytona Beach News-Journal / January 4, 2021
An Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital nurse gives a Longwood first responder a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 at the Seminole County hospital. TNS
(TNS) - Describing the next two months as "crunch time," Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Monday four ways in which he is attempting to expedite Floridians getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
 
The state started the day with 260,655 residents having received the first of two shots immunizing them against the deadly coronavirus that had killed almost 22,000 people statewide. About 21.5 million people live in Florida.
 
COVID-19 vaccine in Florida: DeSantis' plan, problems involved, appointments, things to know
 
DeSantis said the state has shipped vaccines to hospitals, long-term care facilities and county health departments, but he's looking for other ways to inoculate more Floridians.
 
"We need to add additional layers to the vaccination strategy," DeSantis said. "While we may not be able to open all of the sites we want toright at the start based on supply, we do think there's going to be additional supply to establish some additional locations. We're going to have more announcements on that this week."
 
The plan DeSantis announced involves:
 
Converting state-run testing sites into large-scale vaccination sites. Identifying places of worship in "underserved communities," where vaccinations can be given. Using the Florida Department of Emergency Management to "activate" an additional 1,000 nurses to be put to work vaccinating people statewide. "Basically, however they can facilitate getting shots in people's arms, we want those nurses to be able to do that," he said. Directing the State Emergency Response Team to provide doses at the state's 4,000 long-term care facilities.
 
Administration of vaccinations at long-term care facilities has to date been done by CVS and Walgreens, he said.
 
"But we want to accelerate that pace. We believe vaccinations, the sooner the better," DeSantis said. "There's no time to waste and so you're going to see more state effort, additional state effort which has already been significant, in those facilities."
 
Additionally, DeSantis said the state will be evaluating all of the hospitals it has provided with vaccinations to make a determination on how quickly they've been given to patients.
 
"Two weeks ago I said, 'Look, there's going to be a decline on Christmas Eve and Christmas. There's going to be a decline on New Year's," DeSantis said. "That's just the reality of the situation."
 
Orlando Health CEO David Strong said the approach his hospitals are taking is first inoculating about 10,000 front-line employees who are regularly exposed to COVID-19. This week, he expects the chain to vaccinate 20,000 more front-line healthcare workers and first responders who are not employed by Orlando Health, plus long-term care facility residents and hospital employees' family members who are 65 and older.
 
"As you've read, one of the greatest weights the front-line workers carry is, 'Are they going to give COVID-19 to their family?'" Strong said. "It is a purposeful approach for us to focus on our team members and their loved ones."
 
 
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