Sen. Rick Scott talks about COVID-19 impacts on Florida

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Republican Senator Rick Scott estimates that as many as 30,000 to 40,000 people have the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, in the state of Florida.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) discusses COVID-19's impacts on the state of Florida and the country during a phone interview with Alana Austin. (Source: GrayDC)

“I have so many people are calling me that they can’t get a test, or if they do get a test, they can’t get results very quickly, so I think we have a lot of work to do with regard to testing," said Scott during a phone interview with Gray DC. “We all have to take this seriously.”

As of Monday at 3 p.m., the Florida Department of Health confirmed 5,473 COVID-19 cases across the state. 652 Floridians are hospitalized for the virus, and 63 have died. Miami-Dade has the most cases of any locality, with 1,632 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, followed by Broward with 1,152 cases of the virus.

“My heart goes out to everybody that’s impacted by the coronavirus," said Scott.

Scott said a top priority for him moving forward is assisting state, local and federal efforts in expanding access to testing kits. He says it is also critical that rapid results become more widely available.

“The more people take it seriously county by county, we’re going to get past this faster," said Scott.

Last week, the US Congress approved more than two trillion dollars in spending for an economic stimulus package, which the President quickly signed into law. This measure boosts unemployment funding, as well as money for distressed businesses and overwhelmed hospitals hit hard by COVID-19. The bill also sends direct payments to most individuals and families around the nation.

Last week, Scott voted for the bill, which is the biggest economic stimulus legislation in US history. But he expressed concerns with the structure of the unemployment benefits, which he says may pay some Americans hundreds of dollars a week more than they would have made if they worked. He and fellow Republican Senators, Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, argue it may give an incentive for people to stay out of work.

Yet, Scott says there are "many good things" in this bill, and he's glad to see workers in the 'gig' economy, such as Uber and Lyft drivers, will benefit from unemployment support. He says there are also significant resources in there for businesses and health care systems. The Senator said during a phone interview that he was especially pleased that the bill would expand supplies of personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, and “accelerate finding a cure” for COVID-19.

“I know everybody is trying to do their part and I’m optimistic everyone will get back to their normal life quickly," said Scott.

The virus has led to Florida leaders restricting non-essential businesses, closing schools and restricting travel into the state from hot spots, such as New York, New Jersey and Florida.

Watch the interview above for more of Senator Rick Scott's comments on the coronavirus crisis.

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