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Gov. DeSantis: Surging Coronavirus Cases Fueled by 'High Risk' Floridians, FL Deaths Nearing 3,000

Florida Sunset wth copy: Florida - trouble in paradise, coronavirus spike
Photo: public domain; graphic Columbia County Observer

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that surging numbers of COVID-19 cases being reported statewide are a function of increased testing in “high-risk environments,” such as in prisons, industrial worksites and among agricultural workers.

“I have made this point before,” DeSantis said during a Tallahassee news conference that featured a quote from him in an April Tampa Bay Times article saying, “as you test more, you will see more cases.”

The Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 dashboard Tuesday afternoon reported 2,783 new COVID-19 cases, breaking the single-day record of 2,581 set Friday.

Both day’s tallies surged far beyond the previous single-day high of 1,601 new cases set in mid-May and come amid a streak of 1,000 or more new cases reported daily in Florida 13 of the past 14 days.

DeSantis referred to the Tampa Bay Times article in which he predicted new cases uncovered by increased testing would top 2,000 a day.

“Two thousand cases a day in a state this big was definitely something in the offing,” he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, DOH reported 80,109 COVID-19 cases had been reported in Florida since mid-March and 2,993 people in the state have died from the disease, including 55 on Tuesday.

Since June 3, two days before DeSantis launched phase two of his three-part reopening plan, an average of 1,700 new cases have been reported daily, up from 750 daily the previous weeks.

The number of tests performed daily has been 27,000 since June 3, after peaking in late May at more than 33,000 a day, according to DOH.

The percentage of positive tests, however, has been creeping up the past few weeks. According to DOH, May’s positivity rate was 2.3 percent. June’s percentage of positive tests tops 6 percent.

Of 1.461 million people tested, 5.5 percent have tested positive – up more than half a percentage point since May.

DeSantis also maintained results are skewered by the timing of when “batched” test results are dumped and circumstances, such as recent outbreaks in state and federal prisons, local jails, nursing homes and within migrant worker communities.

However, according to DOH, the daily rate of hospital admissions also is trending up, with 145 per day statewide over the past week compared with 113 per day the previous week. Through mid-May, nearly 200 admissions per day were reported on average

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat, said in a Tuesday statement DeSantis “has lost control of Florida’s COVID-19 response.”

“His policies are simply not working, and he’s recklessly reopening Florida despite the data screaming for caution,” she said. “Refusing to acknowledge the alarming patterns in cases, hospitalizations, and positivity is not only arrogant, but will cost lives, public health, and our economy.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry told reporters Tuesday the increase in COVID-19 cases was expected.

“People are out moving around, getting back to work,” he said, noting hospitalizations are down and any suggestion the city resume COVID-19 shutdowns is “ridiculous.”

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Tuesday if his city continues to see new cases spike, he might reclose bars and other businesses.

“My level of concern is significantly elevated,” he said.

Orlando Mayor Jerry Demings told reporters Monday that sheltering in place may be necessary again if trends don’t change.

“We’re not there yet,” he said.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced Monday the city would not advance into the next phase of its reopening plan because of the COVID-19 surge, but it won’t roll back relaxed standards or order residents to stay at home.

This piece appeared in the The Center Square and was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

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