Reporter Confronts DeSantis, Miami Mayor Over Mixed Message on Virus Response: ‘You Guys Are Sitting Right Next to Each Other’


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R) were grilled by reporters Tuesday on whether Gimenez’s county is allowed to hire more contract tracers to track the spread of coronavirus infections, with one noting DeSantis couldn’t provide clarity despite the two “sitting right next to each other.”

“Miami-Dade has said that only Florida can contact trace, and that Miami-Dade County cannot. Can you please explain why Miami-Dade County cannot contact trace?” a reporter asked the duo during an afternoon press conference at the Miami Medical Center.

“He has hired contract tracers,” DeSantis replied, gesturing at Gimenez. The reporter clarified: “He announced on May 14 he was going to hire 800 to 1,000 contact tracers, but he has not been able to hire them. And we asked them, and they gave us a statement saying that only the Florida Department of Health can contact trace.”

Gimenez nodded in agreement as the reporter described the situation, but DeSantis appeared to disagree, saying, “I’m not sure that’s correct. We want the county health departments to be involved in this. … I think they should be able to do it.”

“But wait, you guys are sitting right next to each other. We have the county mayor who as of last Thursday said that contact tracing is in the state purview. You’re sitting here, the governor of the state, now saying the county can do it. Can you guys just look at each other right now and decide who is hiring contact tracers?”

DeSantis again declined to explain the disagreement. “He announced that he was going to do it. And he gave me the heads up that they were going to be investing in some of it. We obviously have done it at the state level. As I’ve said, it’s a lot of CARES Act money — that was what the Department of Health … requested of me. They created a plan.”

The governor ended the 55-minute briefing as reporters continued to shout questions about the contact-tracing program, but as Gimenez prepared to leave, he could be heard responding to a reporter who approached him about the issue. “They’re hiring,” Gimenez said, pointing away.

Florida on Saturday set a daily record for the most coronavirus cases of any state in the country, with 11,458 new cases. Miami-Dade County experienced a little more than 50,000 cases as of July 7, or about a quarter of all those statewide — and more than the approximate totals in 33 other states.

Watch above via the Florida governor’s office.

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