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Florida reportedly requested hundreds of ventilators from federal gov. amid COVID surge

The federal government has reportedly sent hundreds of ventilators and other pieces of medical equipment to Florida this week to help the state deal with its COVID-19 surge. However, Gov. Ron DeSantis claims that he is unaware of any such delivery.

An official in the health administration confirmed that a shipment of around 200 ventilators and 100 smaller high-flow nasal cannula kits from the Strategic National Stockpile were sent to Florida “earlier this week.” According to the official, the SNS only sends such equipment when it receives a request from a state or its health department.

The equipment is being sent to help Florida hospitals deal with the record number of COVID-19 infections. For example, on Tuesday, 14,787 people were hospitalised with coronavirus, that’s a whopping 145% more than during the state’s previous peak back in July 2020. Perhaps even more worryingly the state Is running out of hospital beds, currently almost 90% of the state’s intensive care beds are in use, with 85% of all patient beds filled.

In the words of Ed Jimenez, CEO of the University of Florida Health Shands, “There is a rapid, accelerated rise that is unprecedented.” However, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis denied any knowledge of such a shipment when asked about it by ABC Local10. Telling the station, “I would honestly doubt that that’s true, but I’ll look because we have a lot of stuff that we stockpiled over the last year and a half through the Department of Emergency Management.”

He continued: “I’ve not had any requests across my desk. I have not been notified of that. But they are in contact with the hospitals, I’m personally in contact with CEOs of a lot of major hospitals. DeSantis press secretary, Christina Pushaw also told CNN on Wednesday that the request for the equipment hadn’t gone via his office, “The first he had heard of it was that reporter’s question to him. I can also confirm that no one in the Executive Office of the Governor was involved or aware of the request.”

Despite this the Florida Department of Health communications director Weesam Khoury confirmed that the state had requested the equipment in a statement and confirmed that the state doesn’t have a current shortage of ventilators: “The Department routinely works with federal government to ensure that adequate resources are available and ready to be distributed at all times, as done with this recent request. This is a proactive measure to ensure there are consistent resources available in the state stockpile for deployment.”

In recent days DeSantis and the Biden administration have not always seen eye to eye, especially after DeSantis introduced a ban on mask requirements. With President Biden announcing on Tuesday that his administration would be looking into whether any federal action could be taken to allow Florida schools to require masks. 

ARTICLE: NATHAN REID

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NBC NEWS

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