TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hosted a roundtable in Tallahassee on Monday to discuss the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The roundtable included leaders from the Department of Economic Opportunity, Department of Management Services and Department of Revenue who along with the governor answered questions hanging over the state’s unemployment system, which has been overwhelmed with applications due to mass-layoffs.
Here are some of the highlights from their discussion:
1) DeSantis is aware the unemployment system is a mess, and he’s brought in 72 servers to help fix it
DeSantis acknowledged the unemployement system’s website woes. He said the state brought in 72 new servers to improve the website’s capacity.
DeSantis said the site is now able to handle up to 120,000 simultaneous users. Before, it could only handle up to 60,000.
“That may have been OK in 1996, but not in 2020,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said the system will likely require more servers in the coming weeks.
He said the state has hired hundreds of new call takers and reassigned 2,000 state employees to help process unemployment claims.
DeSantis also said paper applications will soon be available for those unable to file their claim online.
2) DeSantis has taken other measures to help those in need
The governor said he’s issued a number of orders to help those needing assistance.
Last week, he directed the Florida Department of Children and Families to temporarily increase all Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients’ benefit amounts.
He said he’s also waived the job search and online work registration requirements for SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The governor also signed an order suspending foreclosures and evictions through May 17.
3) DeSantis says rapid COVID-19 tests are coming to more hospitals
DeSantis said he talked with Avid, a pharmaceuticals company, and the president directly to get more rapid COVID-19 tests in Florida.
“I said, ‘Look, let’s buy some of this,” DeSantis recalled. “”Fortunately, those machines are in Florida now with a number of hospital systems.”
DeSantis said the state was given a limited supply and he’s working on getting more rapid tests in hospitals throughout the state.
“They did not send them to every major hospital system, so what we’re doing is we’re working with some of the ones that have a number of these machines, and seeing if they can shift some over so that pretty much every major hospital system has access to some type of rapid testing,” DeSantis said. “This is really a game-changer for protecting people in nursing homes, protecting health care workers, conserving hospital space.”
As of 11 a.m. Monday, Florida has reported 13,324 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. More than 1,500 people have been hospitalized, and 236 have died.
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