LONGWOOD, Fla. — Calling the next two months "crunch time," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday said he wants to identify large-scale sites throughout the state where mass COVID-19 vaccinations can take place.
"We don't believe it's time to rest," DeSantis said during a news conference at Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital in Longwood. "We want to continue to see this vaccine administered as quickly as possible."
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The governor said Florida's Division of Emergency Management will work with the Florida Department of Health to identify state-run COVID-19 testing sites that can be converted into vaccination sites.
"These are sites that are generally pretty large, have a lot of parking capacity, have drive-thru capacity," DeSantis said. "We need to add additional layers to the vaccination strategy."
One of the largest COVID-19 testing sites in our area is the FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach. It's unclear if that location will serve as a mass vaccination site.
DeSantis said his goal is to have these large-scale vaccination sites open seven days a week.
In addition, the governor said state officials are identifying places of worships in underserved communities where the COVID-19 vaccine can be given, as well as hiring and deploying 1,000 additional nurses across the state to support vaccination efforts.
"I think 2021 is gonna be brighter, and I think this vaccine is providing a lot of hope to a lot of people," DeSantis said.
The governor said the next group he's targeting for vaccinations is the workforce, including teachers and other essential workers. However, he admitted it could take weeks or even months before enough vaccine is available for that population.
"I view people that are earning a living and putting food on the table as essential, cause it's essential to their family," DeSantis said. "So we want to make it as widely available to the workforce."
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 1,376,692 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 22.090 coronavirus-related deaths in the Sunshine State.