U.S. Representatives Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy, and Darren Soto joined a letter with other Florida members of Congress to Governor Ron DeSantis calling on him to utilize federal resources to expand testing and empower Floridians to protect their health and safety.
“Floridians want to get back to life as normal,” wrote the Congressional members. “We want to keep kids in schools, businesses open, tourism thriving, and residents able to return to their daily lives. The new Omicron variant has taken Florida by storm, and we are concerned that state leadership has been minimal, inconsistent, and confusing…We know that booster shots help minimize the severity of Omicron-related illness.”
Rep. Demings did offer praise for Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott while hitting Gov. DeSantis. Rep. Demings chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, which oversees FEMA.
“We need leaders at every level—community, faith, government, and family—to step up and encourage everyone to get vaccinated so that we can get past this pandemic. While we may not agree on much, Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently did the right thing and requested federal assistance to increase testing capacity, increase medical personal, and expand access to treatments that are most effective against Omicron. Florida governors of both parties have never hesitated to seek the appropriate federal assistance following natural disasters. Our governor should put his partisan battles aside and use all resources at our disposal to save lives and keep Floridians safe.”
While there are no signs that Gov. DeSantis intends to change course in his dealing with COVID-19, the members also called on the Florida Governor to reverse the four bills he signed last November.
“These laws provide overbroad and harmful exceptions to vaccine policies, handcuff local officials from requiring vaccines for employees and students, and ban school mask and quarantine policies that protect students and teachers,” the members wrote. “Tallahassee should not tie the hands of local businesses, schools, and county and municipal governments from taking common-sense actions to protect people and local commerce.”
The Democratic members of Congress also pointed out resources available at no additional cost to the state.
“Several resources are available to Florida at no cost, such as the CDC’s Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT), which can help states implement temporary surge testing sites to respond to demands for large volumes of testing. Our communications with CDC indicate that, to date, the CDC does not have a record of Florida requesting surge testing sites. We urge your Administration to work closely with local health departments to request immediate federal assistance.”
The full letter is here.