TAMPA — Remdesivir, the antiviral that has shown promise as a coronavirus treatment, is in high demand in Florida these days.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has — for weeks — touted the drug and the state’s efforts to acquire it, saying the treatment has led to better outcomes for those who’ve been hospitalized by the virus.
But on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, sounded an alarm about what he said was the insufficient supply of the drug in state hospitals.
“New reports late last night of several hospitals in Florida with low or no supplies of Remdesivir,” Rubio tweeted. “Shipments are coordinated by the federal govt & we have a bad disconnect between what they think we need & what we really need.”
When asked about Rubio’s tweets during a Thursday meeting on mental health in Tampa, DeSantis said he wasn’t worried.
“I spoke with the Vice President (Mike Pence) last night about the need to continue the supply, so he understands it,” DeSantis said during a news conference at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay that included an appearance by his wife, Casey. “And basically I think his thought was, look, we’re looking at southern California, Arizona, Texas and Florida as kind of the priorities on this. And so I do anticipate that we’ll be able to get it. We obviously said that we want to get it as soon as possible.”
DeSantis, who made his comments at a meeting dedicated to mental health during the pandemic, noted that he’s expecting expedited shipments of the drug into the state based on his conversation with Pence.
It’s unclear whether Rubio was aware of the conversation between Pence and DeSantis.
“Within the last week, Florida received two shipments of Remdesivir from the federal government for hospitals. The allocation received was not based on the recent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, and it is clear that Florida hospitals now need more than they did when the assessment was made in early July and cannot wait until July 27 when the next shipment is expected,” a spokesman for Rubio wrote in an email.
If Rubio did know about the conversation between DeSantis and Pence, it did little to assuage his concerns.
“(Hospitalization) numbers will get much worse if discharges slow down due to not enough doses of Remdesivir,” Rubio tweeted Thursday, hours after his initial tweet. “We can’t wait until July 27th for next allocation.”
The confusion about the treatment’s availability came on a day when Florida reported another bleak set of coronavirus numbers. Nearly 14,000 positive tests and 156 deaths were reported — indications that the outbreak gripping Florida this summer shows little signs of slowing down.