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Gov. DeSantis approves $17 million in recurring funding for HBCU Bethune-Cookman

The governor, speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic, said he's more concerned about people crowding indoors with A/C than being outside.
Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis puts on his mask to protect against coronavirus as he leaves a news conference on COVID-19, Friday, June 19, 2020, at Florida International University in Miami.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In the last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed the state's $92.2 billion budget, signed into law dozens of bills and made stops around Florida talking up new laws and the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

His next stop was at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, a historically Black private university.

DeSantis spoke around 2 p.m. Wednesday after approving $17 million in recurring funding for the university, as part of the state's budget.

The university said the funding secures "the historic college's future and access to higher education for African American students."

"I believe what we did with HBCUs this year was really significant," DeSantis said. "These HBCUs are an intricate part of the state of Florida's history. "

State Rep. James Bush (D-109) was also on hand for the news conference on Wednesday, calling DeSantis "a friend to HBCUs" including his alma mater, Bethune-Cookman.

"He extended more life to the dream, to the vision and to the legacy of our founder Dr. McLeod Bethune."

The news conference came after new coronavirus case numbers were released by the Florida Department of Health and after DeSantis signed a new abortion law and extended the moratorium on evictions through August.

On Wednesday, the state reported another 6,563 new COVID-19 cases. The Department of Health said 46 more people died from coronavirus in Florida as of Tuesday.

During Wednesday's news conference, DeSantis also took questions about the state's coronavirus response, including one about people heading outside and to the beaches for the July 4th weekend.

"Doing things outdoors in Florida is less risky than indoors. The virus does not like sunshine, heat and humidity," DeSantis said, noting he's seen very few outbreaks of COVID-19 reported from "something like a park or a beach."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it remains unknown whether weather and temperature affect the spread of COVID-19, and the World Health Organization notes exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 77 degrees does not prevent or cure the virus.

For Independence Day, the governor said he's "more concerned about people crowding into the A/C" and being in close contact indoors.

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During a news conference in Juno Beach on Tuesday, DeSantis echoed his previous statements pointing to increased testing and jumps in the number of young people testing positive for the weeks of spikes in new cases.

He was also asked about his feelings on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to pause reopening and urging residents to stay home.

"If I had one message to give the folks, I would say, protect the vulnerable," DeSantis said. "That's the number one mission we have."

At almost every news conference in recent weeks, DeSantis has been asked about any plans to pause or change the state's reopening plan, which has been in Phase Two for nearly a month. DeSantis said he does not have plans to stop reopening the state nor does he intend to enact a statewide face mask order.

He said he is leaving those face mask decisions up to local leaders.

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