TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that COVID-19 is here to stay in Florida and touted vaccinations as the most effective weapon in the fight against the virus, but he once again resisted calls to impose any restrictions to help prevent its spread amid a summer spike in cases.
During a news conference in Port St. Lucie, the Republican governor promoted the COVID-19 vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatments as the best defense against the virus and its more contagious variants.
DeSantis said many people don't know about monoclonal antibodies.
"We've tried to be very public about it," he said. "The reason why it's important is that, if you get infected and it's in the mild stages, this thing will really work because it basically provides antibodies to fight off the virus. If the virus goes to where it's more serious, at that point, the antibodies, you know, just don't work."
However, DeSantis said, the vaccinations and antibody treatments "combined can reduce this to basically a flu-level risk."
DeSantis continued to call the surge in COVID-19 cases a seasonal spike.
"There's clearly higher prevalence in the summer in Florida than in the spring," DeSantis said. "We know that, and there will be higher prevalence in January than there will be in September here, and there will be higher prevalence next summer than there will be next May, so we know that. That's a pretty consistent pattern."
DeSantis said shutdowns are ineffective and hurt people more than it helps.
"Unfortunately, government can't just end it," DeSantis said. "You know, we still have 1918 flu floating around. … We knew this is something that you're going to have to live with."
DeSantis said he believes most people understand that and are choosing to, like himself, get vaccinated and then get on with their lives.
These waves ebb and flow," he said. "It's not something that government can control, and government's attempts to control that, I think we've seen throughout the country and throughout the world, have been incredibly, incredibly harmful and incredibly damaging."
DeSantis pointed to Israel as being "one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, and yet they've seen spikes."
The governor then reiterated that he would not impose any restrictions.
"That's not happening in Florida," he said. "It's harmful. It's destructive. It does not work."
Instead, he said it should be left up to individuals to decide.
"We really believe that individuals know how to best assess their risk," DeSantis said. "We trust them to be able to make those decisions."
DeSantis also said it's important to note that, while the vaccine remains the most effective way to combat COVID-19, it doesn't necessarily prevent someone who has been vaccinated from contracting the virus.
"Now, we also have to acknowledge that people who are vaccinated are still testing positive and it's not necessarily creating the herd immunity that we had hoped," DeSantis said.