Florida representative calls on Gov. DeSantis to put more effort into preventive COVID-19 measures

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows COVID-19 cases, while still at a significant level, are coming down in Duval County. The data, however, still shows the area to have high transmission of the virus.

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole spoke with Florida Representative Angie Nixon, a local representative of District 14. She said she’d like to see Gov. Ron DeSantis put more effort toward preventive COVID-19 measures.

“It seems that our governor unfortunately, and some of my colleagues in the legislature, are playing politics with peoples lives,” Nixon told Cole. Nixon said that’s evident because of the lack of emphasis on COVID-19 prevention measures.

“The administration, the governor’s office -- don’t collaborate with Democrats often. I reached out to DeSantis early on, when folks, many of my constituents were calling saying they didn’t have access to testing sites. They were saying they were going to have to go pay to get a test done and some of them couldn’t afford it,” Nixon explained.

The representative said the governor’s office connected her to the department of health, but they said they weren’t going to open up any more testing sites.

Nixon said she ultimately had to reach out to a Jacksonville city councilman to get the help she needed.

“And it wasn’t until I reached out to Councilman Garrett Dennis, when he filed emergency legislation, and I started pushing that bill out and having folks call city council, to support that legislation -- that we actually got more Covid testing sites,” Nixon said.

DeSantis was in Jacksonville on Monday, touting the success of the monoclonal antibody treatment site at the Main Library in downtown Jacksonville. In total, DeSantis said they’ve administered 30,000 treatments.

“And don’t get me wrong, we’re not opposed to monoclonal therapies, but, we would like for prevention to be pushed a lot more than it is,” Nixon said.

Since the program began two weeks ago in Jacksonville, hundreds, locally, have been able to receive the monoclonal antibody treatment.

Nixon said she’d like to see DeSantis put more effort toward measures, like: a mask mandate and more focus on combating vaccine hesitancy. She’d also like to see DeSantis fund studies to better help address the vaccine hesitancy issue.

She believes all of this could ultimately help cut down on the number of people who ultimately end up getting the virus.

Cole asked Nixon what her next steps will be if nothing changes about the governor’s course of action: “Rallying the troops and getting people registered so that we can get another governor in office,” Nixon said.

Cole reached out to the governor’s office for a response to Nixon’s concerns.

Although a lot of the information in the response was geared toward Orange County, Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, said in part: “Broadly speaking, the Florida Department of Health is responsible for the planning and implementation of public health initiatives. Testing for COVID-19 is available statewide.”

Pushaw’s statement continues by explaining that, “Local governments do have funding from the federal government that can be used for COVID-19 expenses, including expanded testing capacity if necessary to serve their communities.”

Pushaw said DeSantis always follows the science and makes data-driven decisions and when it comes to encouraging Floridians to get vaccinated, the Florida Department of Health has done extensive PSA campaigns to encourage it.

More specifically, Pushaw said DeSantis has consistently promoted vaccination as a safe, effective, responsible choice that protects vaccinated people from severe COVID-19 outcomes. The governor has had over 50 vaccine-specific events, appearing in 27 counties around the state. He has published over 100 social media posts to highlight those efforts and promote vaccination.