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DeSantis Nixes Daily COVID Reports

covid-19.jpg
Jennie McKeon
/
WUWF Public Media
Escambia County's COVID dashboard from November 2020.

The Florida Department of Health plans to cease the daily COVID-19 reports that have been used by the media and the public to track changes in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw told The News Service of Florida on Friday that there is no need to keep issuing the daily reports.

“COVID-19 cases have significantly decreased over the past year as we have a less than 5% positivity rate, and our state is returning to normal, with vaccines widely available throughout Florida,” Pushaw said in an email.

The state had already stopped producing its daily updates on COVID-19 infection rates among staff and residents at long-term care facilities. The daily reports, which listed the names of facilities with infections, have been replaced by less-detailed weekly reports.

While Florida is ceasing its daily updates, a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic remains in effect and is scheduled to expire on June 26. DeSantis has indicated that he does not plan to extend it any further.

If the governor doesn't think there is a continued public health emergency, will his administration continue to take advantage of enhanced federal funding? There has been a 6.2 percentage point hike in the amount of federal Medicaid funds coming into the state to help offset the increased costs of Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, another budget season has come to a close, which means summer is officially here in Tallahassee. DeSantis on Tuesday signed into law the budget for the new fiscal year that starts on July 1, while at the same time handing out a long line of vetoes. While not a lot of health care spending items were whacked, there was one notable veto. DeSantis sliced from the budget $2 million that would have gone toward increasing access for low-income girls and women to long-acting reversible contraception, a priority for Senate President Wilton Simpson. More here.