State Watch

HHS sending hundreds of ventilators to Florida

The Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is sending ventilators to Florida at the state’s request to deal with its sharp rise in coronavirus cases related to the delta variant.

Some 200 ventilators and 100 smaller breathing devices from the the strategic national stockpile were approved to send to Florida earlier this week, an HHS spokesperson said Thursday.

ABC News affiliate Local 10 had reported Monday that the Florida Health Department requested 300 ventilators on Friday from the federal government.

“The Department routinely works with the federal government to ensure adequate resources are available and ready to be distributed at all times, as done with this recent request,” Weesam Khoury, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, told The Hill on Wednesday.

Khoury says the supplies are being allocated based on resource requests from health care facilities.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is facing rising criticism from Democrats over his handling of the pandemic, told ABC News he was unaware of the request made by his state’s health department. 

“I have not heard about that, so I have to check to see if that’s true or not. I would honestly doubt that that’s true, but I’ll look,” DeSantis said. 

“We have a lot of stuff that we stockpiled over the last year and a half through the Department of Emergency Management. I have not had any requests across my desk. I haven’t been notified of that,” he added.

Florida, which under DeSantis has banned local mask and vaccine mandates, has seen COVID-19 rise in recent weeks, straining hospitals and other health care infrastructure.

On Wednesday afternoon, the White House questioned why the governor might object to getting the ventilators from the federal government.

“As a policy, we don’t send ventilators to states without their interest in receiving the ventilators. I think the most important question here is why would you oppose receiving the ventilators when clearly you need those in your state given the percentage of hospitalizations that are occurring?” Biden press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

—Updated at 1:27 p.m.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic Florida Jen Psaki Ron DeSantis Ventilator ventilators

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