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Gov. DeSantis reiterates 'seniors first' COVID-19 vaccination plan

DeSantis' speech comes as counties across the Tampa Bay area prepare to administer more COVID-19 vaccines.

THE VILLAGES, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited The Villages Tuesday to elaborate on current and future plans for COVID-19 vaccination in Florida. 

During the news conference, DeSantis said nearly 350,000 seniors in Florida have gotten the vaccine as of Tuesday morning. And, because of the state's "seniors first" plan, the majority of vaccinations are going to Floridians ages 65 and up. The governor also pointed out reporting of total vaccinations "lags" behind, and said he expects those numbers are higher than current totals. 

DeSantis also cited an incoming report from the Department of Health and Human Services that would be "basically telling other states to do what Florida is doing" when it comes to general population vaccinations and priority age groups. 

Earlier Tuesday morning, the Associated Press reported the states would be asked to speed up delivery of vaccines and not hold back second doses. HHS Secretary Alex Azar said, "the administration in the states has been too narrowly focused."

RELATED: US asking states to speed vaccine, not hold back 2nd dose

The Trump administration will now ask states to vaccinate people ages 65 and older and those under 65 with underlying health conditions. Azar said current vaccine production should allow for second doses to be released without jeopardizing immunization for people who got the first shot. 

DeSantis said vaccinating 50,000 people a day statewide on weekdays would be a "good day," and reports from last week have shown more than 60,000 shots were given on several days. He added that he believes the state distribution sites can likely do even more shots per day. 

The governor also mentioned Florida will be working to expand its partnership with Publix to administer shots throughout the state. He is expected to speak more on that later Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m. ET in Niceville. 

In response to a question about possibly giving the vaccine to non-residents or tourists, DeSantis said, "Because we put seniors first and because people actually see shots going in arms, you have literally people all over the world and all over the country calling here to see [about getting vaccinated]. We're not doing tourists, we're not doing it for interlopers.

"But I think that does tell you something -- if we weren't getting shots in the arms, people wouldn't be trying to come to Florida."

DeSantis' speech came as counties across the Tampa Bay area prepare to administer more COVID-19 vaccines.

It also comes one day after Florida added 11,576 new coronavirus cases for Jan. 10, according to the Department of Health's latest report.

A total of 1,488,586 people in Florida have tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic began.

Last month, Florida became the third state to report more than 1 million cases, after California and Texas. Florida alone added 315,149 new cases of COVID-19 in December -- roughly 6,000 fewer cases than the peak in July.

So far this January, the state has reported 165,271 cases.

You can watch the full press conference here:

   

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