DeSantis press conference

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a Monday press conference in Orlando. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that hospitals not administering vaccine allotments quick enough will receive smaller future shipments.

DeSantis spoke from Orlando Health and addressed the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine administered in more Floridians.

DeSantis prioritized vulnerable citizens and health care workers as the top vaccine recipients during Phase 1 of the vaccine program.

On Monday, DeSantis presented four new directives that he said will speed up the vaccination effort.

"We don't believe it's time to rest," DeSantis said. "We view these next two months as crunch time."

DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) to work closely with the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) to convert testing sites to vaccination sites.

He also wants the state to identify places of worship in underserved communities where vaccine administration can be set up.

DeSantis is activating an additional 1,000 nurses to deploy throughout Florida to help facilities to "get shots in arms."

According to the FDOH COVID-19 Vaccine Summary through Saturday, 255,808 Floridians have received a first dose of the vaccine. That's less than half of the 546,400 vaccine doses delivered to Florida as of Dec. 30, according to state data. 

To close the gap between doses received and administered, DeSantis said he is directing state emergency response teams to take on more responsibility in vaccinating residents and staff of the more than 4,000 long-term care facilities. Currently, CVS is contracted to administer vaccines to these facilities, but DeSantis wants to accelerate that effort with additional support staff.

DeSantis said that any hospital not expediting the administration of its vaccine allotment will receive fewer doses in upcoming distributions.

DeSantis also announced that any state-run COVID-19 testing and vaccine locations will be ordered to remain open seven days a week.

The governor emphasized the order of who should be receiving the vaccine.

"We gotta focus on senior citizens," he said. "I don't want a 20-year-old working at a grocery store getting the vaccine over a 74-year-old grandmother."

The announced changes come as Florida grapples with an unprecedented surge in positive test results. Last week the state reported more than 21,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the number of vaccine doses received and administered in Florida. 

Mainstreet Daily News Reporter

Suzette Cook is a Mainstreet Daily News reporter who has been a community journalist for more than 30 years.

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