The federal Department of Health and Human Services sent 200 ventilators and 100 high-flow nasal oxygen kits to Florida after a request from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), allegedly due to a shortage.
However, when asked earlier this week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he did not know about any request to Washington.
“I have not heard about that, so I have to check to see if that’s true or not,” he said. “I would honestly doubt that that’s true, but I’ll look. We have a lot of stuff that we stockpiled over the last year and a half through the department of emergency management. I have not had any requests across my desk. I haven’t been notified of that.”
The request for more ventilators and similar equipment is not made through the governor’s office, but through the FDOH, and the FDOH confirmed on Wednesday they did ask the federal government for more supplies. However, their intention was to add to Florida’s emergency reserves, not because of a shortage.
“There is not a ventilator shortage,” said Weesam Khoury, FDOH spokesperson.
“The Department routinely works with the federal government to ensure adequate resources are available and ready to be distributed at all times, as done with this recent request,” Khoury continued. “This is a proactive measure to ensure there are consistent resources available in the state stockpile for deployment.”
Florida’s hospitals are also confirming there is no shortage, but are being cautious in the event things turn worse and resources are scarce.
“However, we have seen the number of patients with COVID-19 increase ten-fold since the first week of July,” said Glenn Waters, COO of BayCare Health System, to the Tampa Bay Times. “With an increasing number of hospitalized patients, it is becoming increasingly difficult to shift resources within our system. As a precautionary measure, we have requested a limited amount of additional equipment in case it is needed to support additional patients needing respiratory assistance in the future.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was also asked about the shipment of supplies and confirmed they were sent to Florida but also included a subtle jab at Florida and its handling of the pandemic.
“As a policy, we don’t send ventilators to states without their interest in receiving the ventilators,” Psaki said. “Why would you oppose receiving ventilators when you clearly need those in your state given the percentage of hospitalizations occurring in Florida?”
DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw asked why Psaki was making this a political issue.
Why is the Biden Admin trying to make this into a huge political issue? Nobody from @GovRonDeSantis office asked for ventilators. @HealthyFla did, and there’s a standard / routine process, the Governor doesn’t need to be looped in on it. pic.twitter.com/PYz75RPwCp
— Christina Pushaw (@ChristinaPushaw) August 11, 2021
“Why is the Biden Admin trying to make this into a huge political issue?” Pushaw tweeted. “Nobody from @GovRonDeSantis office asked for ventilators. @HealthyFla did, and there’s a standard / routine process, the Governor doesn’t need to be looped in on it.”
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.