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DeSantis dismisses COVID-19 spike, rejects mandatory masks

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FILE – In this Oct. 29, 2019, file photo, Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference on in Tallahassee, Fla. A federal judge has ruled that the Florida law requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the vote is unconstitutional for those unable to pay, or unable to find out how much they owe. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle has acknowledged he is unlikely to have the last word, expecting the administration of Republican Gov. DeSantis to launch an appeal. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon, File)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – Governor Ron DeSantis is rejecting the notion the state is experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases, despite more than 14,000 residents testing positive in the past week.

Governor Ron DeSantis attributes the rise in cases to increased testing and plans to go full steam ahead with reopening and is rejecting calls to impose mandatory safety precautions.

With the state conducting about 30,000 tests a day DeSantis sees the rise in cases as just a result of more people being tested

“As you test more you will see more cases,” said DeSantis. “We’re not shutting down”.

DeSantis also said hotspots are largely isolated to certain industries like agriculture.

“When you have a virus that disproportionately impacts one segment of society, to suppress a lot of working-age people at this point I don’t think would likely be very effective,” said DeSantis.

Florida Democrats have criticized Gov. DeSantis’ dismissal of the spike in cases.

“Governor 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,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried in a statement.

A caravan of protestors arrived at the Capitol Wednesday and argued Gov. DeSantis has a roll to play in ensuring adequate protection for workers.

“Workers need to be protected on the job and we are seeing in certain industries statewide and nationally that protection has been pretty lax,” said Michael Newberger with the Florida AFL-CIO.

On Tuesday physicians called on the Governor to mandate face masks in public places. Just a few hours later DeSantis shot the idea down.

“We should be trusting people to make good decisions. Floridians have shown they can do that,” said DeSantis.

Dr. Ron Saff with the Physicians For Social Responsibility said the Governor’s argument reminds him of those made when people protested seatbelt laws.

“And I suspect some of those people are the same ones that are fighting the mask idea. It makes good sense to wear a mask just like it makes good sense to wear a seatbelt,” said Dr. Saff.

While daily case numbers have set multiple new records in the past week, the overall positivity rate in the state remains below six percent.

As of Wednesday, the state’s dashboard reported 1.4 million Floridians had been tested, with almost 83,000 positive tests.

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