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Florida Surgeon General Alert

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Last Updated: 12 November 2020

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The TALLAHASSEE coronavirus was sweeping Florida in April when State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees warned that people in the state might have to social distance for up to a year. Minutes later, aide to Gov. Ron DeSantis whisked him out of the briefing. Aide, DeSantis communications director Helen Aguirre Ferre, blamed the Rivkees' abrupt removal on scheduling conflict. But State records obtained by POLITICO challenge that assertion. The Rivkees, at an April briefing with reporters, had gone off message. As spring breakers descend on Florida's beaches in spring, DeSantis administration's script was to downplay the dangers of viruses among young people. Ferre at time said Rivkees had to leave the briefing early because he had another scheduled meeting with Adrian Lukis, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Governor's office. On Wednesday, DeSantis Public records employee said office had no record of the State Surgeon General meeting with the Deputy Chief of Staff. The governor's office did not respond to a request for Lukis' calandar for April 13. High-level meetings typically are accompanied by briefs, notes, background information and other documentation, such as calendars and invitations. But in the case of the April 13 meeting Ferre said take place, no paper or digital records appear to exist, according to records officials in the Governor's office. In response to POLITICO's request for such documents, DeSantis office on Wednesday provided documentation of the April 13 meeting that included Rivkees, Lukis and others. That meeting ended at 11 am, four hours before 3 pm coronavirus briefing Rivkees was pulled from. Documents include calendar invite to a handful of people, including Lukis and Rivkees, and an email notification showing Lukis had accepted meeting invitation. No such records exist for the meeting that Ferre described when reporters in April asked about the Rivkees ' abrupt exit from the briefing. In an email to POLITICO on Thursday, Ferre said Rivkees and Lukis had separate, unplanned meeting. Open Government provides you with all responsive records, Ferre say. In addition to that previously scheduled morning meeting, Dr. Rivkees had a meeting with Deputy Chief of Staff Adrian Lukis in the afternoon. Meetings at EOG are concurrent throughout the day. Ferre, who on Thursday announced she was leaving DeSantis office, did not answer follow-up questions and Lukis did not respond to emailed questions. Rivkiees and DOH spokesperson Alberto Moscoso did not respond to requesst for comment. Rivkees, who lead the Florida Department of Health, has had few public appearances since and hasn't attended DeSantis coronavirus briefing since May. He regularly meets in private with the Governor, according to the governors public daily calendars. Rivkees made his social distancing comment on April 13, two weeks after DeSantis issued his first coronavirus executive Order. At the time, Republican Governor was working to beef up protection for nursing homes and assist-living facilities, but largely downplay outbreak's overall impact.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

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* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

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