Doctors Fighting COVID; Latest On Vaccine; Investigation Into State’s Handling Of Virus

Dec 18, 2020

Physicians and public officials warn infection rates and death tolls are still rising, despite the arrival of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine and likely approval of the Moderna vaccine, so Floridians need to keep masking up.

Mayors across Florida have joined the physicians’ call to action by signing a “Doctors Fighting COVID” letter, asking Governor Ron DeSantis to call for a statewide mask mandate. This is not the first time the group has asked him to change his COVID-19 policy.

Meanwhile, during a Tuesday news conference DeSantis said he will not instate a mask mandate and that Florida will remain open for business. He noted that about 40 states have higher numbers of new COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations per capita than Florida. The governor’s remarks come as the state awaits the distribution of the Moderna vaccine.

Dr. Nancy Staats, a board-certified physician in anesthesia and critical care and a founder of Doctors Fighting COVID, spoke with us about coronavirus fatigue and her plea to the governor.

Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown, whose family has been personally affected by COVID-19, joined us as well.

COVID-19 Vaccine

According to a plan released Wednesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the state is preparing to receive 367,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week if it receives approval. At the time of this story's publication, Moderna was still awaiting FDA authorization.

The doses would be distributed to the 173 hospital locations around the state that did not receive the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr. Jason Wilson, Associate Medical Director of ER at Tampa General and Associate Professor with USF Health, told us more about what we can expect in the coming weeks.

Investigation Into The State’s Handling of COVID-19 Data

An investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found a mysterious gap in Florida’s COVID-19 deaths. 

COVID-19 deaths are frequently recorded days to weeks after they occur. However, the report found that on On October 24 the state abruptly stopped including older deaths that occurred more than a month prior in its daily count. Two weeks after the election on November 17, the state reintegrated older deaths into its statistics.

Reporter Cindy Goodman of the Sun-Sentinel joined us with more information about the investigation.

Katherine Hobbs can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.