Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t want other states to have obligations bailed out that predate the COVID-19 pandemic. But if the federal government crafts a rescue package, Florida would appreciate being included.
“It’s one thing to help a state with lost revenue from the pandemic,” DeSantis told host Maria Bartiromo. “But this pandemic should not be used to bail out obligations that were run up over 20 or 30 years. I think that would be very unfair to the states that have done it well.”
The Republican governor made that clear during a Fox News interview Sunday morning. On “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo,” he discussed how Florida has contained the pandemic thus far.
He sat down with the news outlet a day ahead of the first phase in his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.” to reopen Florida from a statewide lockdown.
He touted a mobile rapid-testing unit that will launch tomorrow to various communities. The unit will have tests that produce results for COVID-19 in 45 minutes.
Asked about how Florida’s infection rates have been lower than other major states, he credited an early lockdown on restrictions with nursing home visitation.
Florida notably has seen areas significantly affected when COVID-19 spread within homes, causing caution within the industry. But the casualties have been less than other states.
DeSantis credited Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew with policies like not returning nursing home patients hospitalized with COVID-19 unless facilities had appropriate isolation capacity.
DeSantis stressed a hope, though, that rapid testing will soon allow for visitors to nursing homes for people who will undergo rapid testing.
“I’d like to test the family members and let them go visit their loved ones,” DeSantis said. “These people haven’t had visitors for two months. That’s not an easy thing.”
DeSantis also discussed a recent visit with President Donald Trump. The President called for DeSantis to offer recommendations on allowing international visitors to fly into Florida from places like Brazil.
The Governor has staffers working on that issue now, he said, and recommendations will likely include working with airlines and establishing preflight testing at airports in areas with COVID-19 outbreaks.
But the most combative remarks from the Governor came in discussing how bailouts should impact states. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell criticizes some proposals as “blue state bailouts,” DeSantis said states with a financial plight that predates the coronavirus crisis should not be able to exploit the situation at hand.
“If you are gonna make a state whole from pre-pandemic that’s one thing,” DeSantis said, “but to go beyond that and to bail out pensions or do things like that, a lot of these states weren’t being managed properly.
“I wouldn’t want to see Florida and Texas lose our competitive advantage because they’re getting bailout money and we are not.”
But when Bartiromo pressed on whether Florida will need any bailout money, DeSantis said he’s open to it.
“We lost revenue,” DeSantis said. “I think if they’re going to do a package, we would absolutely love to be included in it because the economy has taken a hit. We have got people unemployed, we have parts of economy that have stopped. We’ll get it back, but I mean it has caused problems.”