Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is still formulating a plan to reopen Florida’s economy, said on Saturday that Florida’s “measured” approach to shutting down the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic has “flattened the curve.” The Republican governor set up a task force to examine reopening the economy, and he is supposed to start reviewing its recommendations next week.
During his 1.5 hour press conference held on Saturday the Governor said he is, “Not in a rush to do anything” while touting Florida’s flattening of the curve. While 37,000 were tested in the last two days, he said that there was a reduction to 2,000 new positive cases, or 7.5%, which beat the averages in many other states that were at 25% and 30%. Hospitalizations were down for the last 10 days, indicating a flattening of the curve in Florida. The Governor used Cleveland Clinic in South Florida where the press conference was held as a prime example. A week ago, the Cleveland Clinic had 54 patients with 50% in ICU and 2/3 requiring ventilators. Today it is down to 20 patients, showing improvement with many patients being released.
We also learned that there is going to be even more testing in the coming weeks. As of Friday, Pharmacists are now able to administer the tests. Florida is testing 18,000 per day, soon increasing by an additional 10,000 a day. Governor DeSantis indicated Florida is getting the FDA-approved test to rule out antibodies for current COVID-19 shortly after New York, within the next week or so.
Governor DeSantis touched on the fear that predominated the country and Florida a month ago. “The biggest fear is the fear of the unknown.” A month ago, the Governor indicated that the prediction was for 465,000 hospitalizations in Florida when Florida had nowhere near those beds for patients. The enhanced mitigation done by the State including creating beds and increased testing, has created space for patients. “One month ago they were telling us there would be 465,000 hospitalized and today we have 2,000 people hospitalized.”
The Florida Chamber of Commerce reported yesterday in its COVID-19 Update the lowest increase in the number of positive cases since March 24th, and the lowest number of deaths since March 29th. “Overall, Florida has tested 334,974 people, and yesterday tested 13,990 more individuals, but only recorded an increase of 306 positive cases. One of the key data points that we’re all watching is our percent of positive cases. Florida’s percent of positive cases has declined from 11 percent on April 2, to 9.2 percent positive cases yesterday. Also, yesterday, a record low 9 deaths were reported, bringing the total to 1,055. Again, while one day doesn’t represent a trend, the 14-day average is trending in the right direction.”
In response to questions, DeSantis said Florida is operating under an approach similar to phase one of the White House's reopening guidelines. “Phase I will be a small step forward.” While not in a big rush, the reopening of Florida “will be in favor of doing it right” and “will be data driven.”
DeSantis referenced a trust in the way Floridians are handling this and flattening the curve. He will focus on treating different parts of the state differently. He praised people in the State of Florida for having done a great job and believes the State has approached it the “right way.”
“The biggest fear is fear of the unknown.” A month ago, the numbers were off the charts. Let’s have faith in Floridians and hope that our practices will be back seeing patients in full force in the not too distant future.