PPE, Other Supplies Flowing into the Florida COVID-19 Battle
Florida has spent about $500 million on emergency supplies and support for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz.
“Social distancing [and other] mitigation measures are working; we are flattening that curve,” said Moskowitz. “Florida has a good story to tell on what’s been working.”
Moskowitz spoke after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the White House had earmarked one million N95 face masks for Florida.
“We have 800,000 of that shipment in hand; Jared Moskowitz, the head of the Department of Emergency Management is deploying that 800,000 masks to our frontline hospitals and health care workers.”
States across the country have been competing against each other and the federal government, as they scramble to obtain critical medical supplies in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
“When this all started, we had had millions of these masks ordered,” said the governor. “We were told they would be delivered on Friday; then you’d go, and they disappear. ‘Oh, next Wednesday’ then you go, they disappear. It’s been a real, real problem how the secondary markets work. But I’m glad we were able to work this out with the White House.”
Speaking at the state capitol, Moskowitz said price gouging “obviously” is occurring as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to soar.
“What is the value of saving a life? The answer is that it’s unlimited, right? So, if we have to make decisions to get life-saving PPE, regardless of whatever the cost is and buy it from whoever has it, we are going to do that,” said Moskowitz.
Besides the N95 masks, other materiel is being delivered to Florida in larger quantities now, than when the coronavirus began showing up in Florida.
The Division is continuing to push PPE to support hospitals, first responders and health care workers across the state. These critical supplies are being distributed 24 hours, 7 days a week to respond to #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/3dxkB4HxR3— FL Division of Emergency Management (@FLSERT) April 15, 2020
“We are continuing the push out all sorts of different PPE,” said Moskowitz. “Five and a half million gloves; 564,000 shoe covers, 615,000 face shields, 300,000 gowns, over 100,000 containers of hand sanitizer, 47,000 pairs of goggles, and 22,00 coveralls which are basically tie-back suits.”
“Burn rates” – the speed and quantity of equipment that’s used and discarded – continue to change, says Moskowitz, as they analyze the data and decide where the PPE should be sent in their 24/7 effort.
“We run stiff all night, all day; and we’re pushing directly where it needs to go,” Moskowitz said. “Directly to the front lines, the hospitals, the nursing homes. And to our first responders – police and fire.”
Moskowitz praised Gov. DeSantis for contacting the White House and asking for 100% reimbursement – similar to requests sent in the aftermath of a hurricane.
“When we get a disaster declaration it starts out at 75 percent reimbursement, 25 percent local cost share,” said Moskowitz. “This is not a state disaster; it’s a national disaster. And it’s a big deal to these hospitals; it’s a big deal to the cities and counties who – let’s not forget – have dealt with four years of hurricanes here.”
And with all that said, the bedrock of the fight against the virus continues to be ratcheted up statewide.
“We are working on expanding testing in a number of different areas, number of different neighborhoods,” Moskowitz said. “Even change the mode of how you get tested – whether that’s a walk-up versus a potential drive-through. We have to stay the course – remember, April 30 is the 30 days to ‘Stop the Spread.’”
Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is making another call for Gov. DeSantis and the state Cabinet to jointly address issues related to the pandemic.
“It’s important that we do meet so we can have these conversations and discuss it,” said Fried. “A lot of the stuff that we may not have to vote on could be one-on-one conversations at the very least, to give us up-to-date information of what is happening in our state.”
Fried has complained about a lack of communication between the statewide elected officials, requesting weekly briefings from the governor’s office since before an April 7 Cabinet meeting was canceled.