Gov. DeSantis says healthy people, including hospital workers, should still work if exposed to COVID

Published: January 12, 2022 3:30 PM EST
Updated: January 14, 2022 7:57 AM EST

Hundreds of healthcare employees are out sick, resulting in hospitals becoming overwhelmed. On Wednesday, in a news conference, Governor DeSantis stuck to his guns and said healthy people should still go to work even if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

“We have about 300 employees who are either out with COVID or are in quarantine due to an exposure,” said Lee Health COO Armando Llechu during a news conference on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, Governer DeSantis was in Bonita Springs for a news conference of his own, so WINK News asked him if the state has a plan to help hospitals like Lee Health.

DeSantis said, “in terms of being exposed, I mean look, that’s a decision that they’re having to make. Our view is; do not send people home who are healthy.”

The governor pointed to the state’s Surgeon General Joe Ladapo, who said last week that healthy, asymptomatic people should skip testing.

DeSantis made it clear that those recommendations include hospital workers, who are in high demand as more as more patients flood emergency rooms all across the state.

“The fact of the matter is omicron is something that is so, so contagious that it is something that comes in waves.” DeSantis said, “That was very important to have all hands on deck so that you’re not short-staffed.”

WINK News asked Lee Health if every exposed person waits on a test. A spokesperson said no, it’s done on a case-by-case basis depending on symptoms and vaccination status.

Lee Health is also asking for your help, imploring you don’t come to the emergency room if you’re not sick.

When asked a second time if the state had a plan to help Lee Health and hospitals like it, the governor said, “well, look, they’ve, I mean, I think our view was we did that at the outset, because we kind of got caught but, you know, there’s a hole all these hospitals have the ability to be able to bring in there, I mean, it’s very, it’s expensive, because there’s a huge demand for it.”

In essence, the governor said the state doesn’t need to pay to support hospitals anymore because COVID-19 is not a surprise anymore.

The governor’s office did point to a federal program that runs through FEMA to provide extra funds to hospitals that need them.

“We don’t have necessarily, people like that are on the state payroll for that. What we did initially was just have the same type of contracts then, that a lot of the hospital systems have now,” said DeSantis.

Desantis repeatedly calls out President Biden for his employee vaccine mandate. The governor argues that will only hurt hospital staffing across the country.

The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration announced last week it will not enforce the president’s mandate. Lee Health says it will remain in compliance with the federal mandate and will reevaluate its rules if that mandate is overturned by the Supreme Court.