DeSantis says age of Florida coronavirus patients is dropping

Miami-Dade Mayor Gimenez says priority is enforcing safety guidelines

Younger patients may not be at the highest risk for severe symptoms, but they can still spread the disease to more vulnerable people, leaders warn.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking at Florida International University at the end of a week of rising coronavirus cases, highlighted that the median age of patients being diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state is dropping.

In short, younger people are testing positive and showing less severe symptoms.

“I think the folks that are going into the hospital now, fortunately, are skewing younger with less acuity,” DeSantis said, noting that the median age of people diagnosed with the virus in the state has dropped to 37. “And obviously we want to keep as many people out [of the hospital] as we can.”

Also speaking at FIU, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez stressed that while the younger people being diagnosed with COVID-19 are believed to be at a lesser risk for major complications, it’s critical for them to be just as vigilant in following safety measures because they can spread the disease to more vulnerable people.

Gimenez also said that while there is an uptick in hospitalizations that is concerning, there are enough hospital beds available. The goal, he says, is to keep the reopening of business at its current phase and focus on enforcement of the safety rules.

“It would have get a heck a lot worse for us to take a step back,” Gimenez said.

While FIU infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty did use the word “alarming” to describe the recent uptick, she agreed with state and county leaders that enforcement of safety guidelines during this time of rising case numbers is crucial.

“We are all in agreement that we need to tighten up our situation here so we don’t keep seeing a rise in hospitalizations,” she said.

“Bottom line is if we follow the new normal that has been put in place, we can have an economy and get rid of the virus at the same time. If we don’t adhere to these practical guidelines that are based on the actual empirical evidence and risks assessment than our numbers will continue to go up and we will have a much worse situation, which might even require going back to a draconian fix of locking down, and let’s not do that.”

The governor said again that an increase in testing has contributed to the increase in positive cases, as younger people didn’t qualify to get tested earlier during the pandemic.

DeSantis also said the state’s hospitals have more hospital beds available than at the start of the pandemic.

The news conference in South Florida came on a day when the state set another record with 3,822 newly reported cases. That number is twice as many cases as what had been the record just a week ago.

Reasons for the sharp increase in cases hypothesized by elected leaders include more people interacting amid the partial reopening of the economy, hot spots emerging from the state’s agricultural communities, gatherings in the form of marches for racial equity and increased testing capacity.

The local increase in cases comes as Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization, says that the pandemic is “accelerating” and that the “world is in a new and dangerous phase.”

Marty noted that COVID-19 is a concern regardless of your political or personal beliefs.

“The virus doesn’t care about our politics, the virus doesn’t care about our belief systems,” she said. “It just is a packet of genetic information that wants to go from one host to the next, and if we facilitate that, the virus is going to do that.”

Gimenez held a separate video news conference later Friday. Watch a replay here:

WATCH: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez virtual news conference

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez holds a virtual news conference Friday afternoon.

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Friday, June 19, 2020

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."