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Elective Surgeries Ready As Florida Reopens For Business

Gov. DeSantis announced a three-phase plan to reopen Florida during a press conference on Wednesday.
Courtesy: Governor's Press Office
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

After weeks of shutdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus, Governor Ron DeSantis says elective surgeries are ready to begin again on Monday.

He discussed ‘phase one' of reopening the state during a visit to Halifax Health in Daytona Beach Sunday. He pointed to the hospital's protocol - and its supply of personal protective equipment - as why this hospital and others can resume non-emergency surgeries.

“The hospitals when they’re doing it, they’re certifying effectively, that they do have space in the hospital, that if you did have increase in COVID patients they can handle it and they have adequate PPE, they’re not going to run to the state for PPE,” DeSantis said. 

DeSantis said Halifax Health is doing it right, protecting those most vulnerable to coronavirus. Halifax officials said other steps they've taken include making sure COVID-19 patients from long term care facilities test negative twice before being released. And it created a separate wing of the hospital to isolate COVID-19 patients and the staff treating them.

In Mid-March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommended a delay of elective procedures across the country to preserve protective equipment for hospital workers, and to make sure health care workers were available to care for an expected onslaught of novel coronavirus patients.

DeSantis also announced Sunday that Florida has received 200,000 antibody blood tests to determine whether people have been exposed to the novel coronavirus without knowing it.

He said he would start distributing the tests, first to health care workers, and then perhaps make an antibody test lane at drive-through testing sites across the state.

He expects them to be distributed in the next few days.

“It'll probably be a combination of providing some to hospitals so that the health care workers can get tested, doing a lane in our drive-thru test sites so that if people do want to get the antibodies, they can come and get the antibody testing,” he said.

He said the information from those tests is key to helping researchers determine just how widespread COVID-19 has been in the state. And he noted that Florida may team up with universities to conduct further research.

Antibody tests in other cities and states have helped reveal a much higher number of people have been exposed to coronavirus without knowing they were infected.

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Susan Giles Wantuck is our midday news host, and a producer and reporter for WUSF Public Media who focuses her storytelling on arts, culture and history.