Florida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing

Ten Democratic members of Congress from Florida wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisA newspaper crosses an uncrossable line to 'punish' a class of Americans Officials say starving manatees in Florida have begun to consume emergency lettuce Trans rights under attack: The persecution should stop now MORE (R) on Monday calling for him to utilize federal assistance to expand COVID-19 testing in the state. 

"We urge you to, once again, vocally encourage vaccines and boosters, and stop propagating vaccine and booster messages filled with doubt and indifference," the letter said, noting that cases in Florida have risen by 948 percent in recent weeks. 

The letter also encouraged DeSantis to advocate for widespread testing and to reverse bills that limit local officials and private businesses from policies like mask and vaccine mandates. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"These policies are not based in science and do not protect the health and safety of Floridians," the letter added.

Democratic Florida Reps. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Florida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing Democrats look back on Jan. 6 with emotion MORE, Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzFlorida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing Democrats quietly explore barring Trump from office over Jan. 6  Omar allies dig in on calls for Boebert punishment MORE, Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorFlorida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing Hillicon Valley — Dems press privacy groups over kids' safety Castor, Schakowsky seek information on children's online safety program MORE, Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchIt's time for Biden to keep his promises on Israel and the UN Florida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing Last living Nuremberg Trials prosecutor deserves Congressional Gold Medal MORE, Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonFlorida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing In their own words: Lawmakers, staffers remember Jan. 6 insurrection FAA levies 5K in fines against unruly passengers this year MORE, Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelFlorida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing Last living Nuremberg Trials prosecutor deserves Congressional Gold Medal Democrats repeal prohibition on funding abortions abroad MORE, Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristProtecting seniors from guardianship fraud and abuse DeSantis proposes Florida redistricting map Florida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing MORE, Al LawsonAlfred (Al) James LawsonDeSantis proposes Florida redistricting map Florida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing Harris aide to become Black Caucus executive director MORE, Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Florida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing MORE and Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoProtecting seniors from guardianship fraud and abuse Florida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing Sixteen Hispanic House Democrats ask EPA for tougher methane rule MORE signed the letter.

"As a federal elected official, Rep. Demings should be using her platform to urge the Biden Administration to speed up the delivery not only of tests, but of life-saving monoclonal antibody therapies, such as Evusheld and Sotrovimab," a spokesperson from DeSantis's office said in an email to The Hill when asked about the letter.

"Governor DeSantis has prioritized early treatment and therapies, which have saved thousands of lives in Florida, but unfortunately the federal government controls the entire supply," the spokesperson added.

"Florida governors of both parties have never hesitated to seek the appropriate federal assistance following natural disasters. Our governor should put his partisan battles aside and use all resources at our disposal to save lives and keep Floridians safe," Demings said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Demings also referenced Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure Texas blames supply chain snarls for shortage of voter registration forms O'Rourke says he raised record .2M since launching campaign for Texas governor MORE's (R) recent decision to ask for federal assistance with COVID-19 testing and treatments in his state. 

Abbott, who has been a leading opponent of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, said at the time that Texas was “urging the federal government to step up in this fight and provide the resources necessary to help protect Texans.”

Last week, DeSantis announced that Florida would provide 1 million at-home tests to be sent first to long-term care facilities and nursing homes, then to “senior heavy communities.”

The governor added at the time that Florida's position on testing is “if you are just young and healthy, you don’t need to be running out and getting tested every day.”

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in Florida have skyrocketed in recent weeks. For the most recent data from Dec. 31- Jan. 6, Florida's Department of Health reported 397,114 new COVID-19 cases, an increase from 297,888 cases the week of Dec. 24 and 128,151 the week of Dec. 17. 

Seventy-two percent of the state's population ages 5 and older are vaccinated, according to the health department.