PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A combination of allowing for more Floridians to get tested for coronavirus and a younger skewing demographic that is testing positive for the virus were Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis’ answer to the sudden surge in cases in the state.
On Saturday, Florida shattered its previous single-day record, set Friday, logging some 4,040 new coronavirus cases in just the last 24 hours.
Broken down by county, Miami-Dade is the clear hot spot with more than 700 new cases, bringing the total to over 25,000, while Broward County added 389 new cases with almost 11,000 in total.
“A case is now a lot different than what a case would mean in March or the first part of April when (the coronavirus) first came on the scene. There weren’t a lot of tests available,” DeSantis said during a press conference Saturday in Tallahassee.
"I knew from the beginning that when you do mass testing and that you do testing that doesn't require people to have symptoms, that you would have more cases. And, I knew how that would be portrayed – 'Oh, my gosh, more cases."
The governor said that the focus should be on mortality and morbidity.
“Since the beginning of May, we have had a good downward trend in fatalities for the last 7 weeks.”
He stated that initially tests were only administered to people who were symptomatic and who had traveled out of the country to China. “Then it was Italy,” he said. DeSantis pointed out that when the coronavirus first made its way to the United States, if someone who hadn’t traveled didn’t feel well and went to a doctor or hospital, they would not have been tested for COVID-19.
Now, anyone who goes to a hospital for an elective surgery is tested for COVID-19, Florida’s governor pointed out.
His other takeaway? Those testing positive for the virus are younger, asymptomic people who, he said, don’t need as much hospital care.
Watch the press conference below.
“I think what we’ve seen now, is a really significant increase in positive test results for people in their 20s and 30s. So, you look at a place like Broward, the media age is 32, meaning half of the identified cases were 31 and under. From an individual risk, those are the less vulnerable demographic.”
He did recognize that there is concern that those in their 20s and 30s are testing positive. “We are seeing it spread among that group faster than we would like to see.”
On Saturday, DeSantis also said he is directing the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to increase inspections to ensure that businesses are adhering to applicable Phase 1 and Phase 2 guidance throughout the state.
DeSantis said currently the state’s reopening will not be affected by the increase in numbers.
Local 10 reached out to the mayors of Miami and Miami-Dade County to see if the spike will affect their reopening plans. They are not planning to address the increase in cases until a press conference set for Monday.
Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora said that his city is “sitting back and absorbing the openings that have been allowed by the county.” Gongora said there is a strong message that businesses need to hear. “We’ve allowed you to open, but we’ve allowed you to open under the new norm. You must maintain social distancing.”
While it may be true that more testing is being done — some health experts say the real indicator to keep an eye on — is the rate of hospitalizations.
“Coming into a hospital has nothing to do with how much testing there is,” Aileen Marty, M.D., professor of infectious disease in the department of Medicine at FIU, told Local 10′s Christina Vazquez.
“The virus doesn’t care about our politics. The virus doesn’t care about our belief system. We need to tighten up our situation here so that we don’t keep seeing a rise in hospitalizations,” she said.
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(Local 10′s Christina Vazquez contributed to this story.)