TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) –Despite a record number of new COVID-19-related deaths in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis had somewhat of a positive outlook on the situation, saying cases have started trending downward.
The governor addressed reporters from a hospital in Melbourne Thursday right after the state reported 173 new COVID-19 deaths, the largest increase in deaths since the outbreak began.
A reporter pressed DeSantis about the high death count, asking if he was concerned about the record number of deaths that was reported “overnight.” The deaths are recorded each day.
“Well, let me just correct you, so, when the state reports that, that’s not saying that those deaths occurred last night,” DeSantis said, seemingly dodging the question.
“It’s still a scary number,” the reporter continued. “When you look at those numbers, do you still believe Central Florida is flattening?”
DeSantis later said the state was in a better place than it was about two weeks ago, when it recorded a record 15,300 cases.
“We’re trending in a better direction. And I think if you take out South Florida, the rest of the state is trending even better than that. Although, I do think South Florida has definitely stabilized and I think Miami is showing some signs of improvement as well,” DeSantis said.
Florida reported 10,249 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. Statewide, there are 389,868 confirmed cases of the virus, and 5,518 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic.
The percent positivity for new cases (the number of people who test PCR or antigen-positive for the first time divided by all the people tested that day) ranged from 10.54% to 15.11% over the past two weeks and was 12.31% yesterday.
DeSantis previously questioned the numbers, saying some people who died and tested positive for the virus were counted as a COVID-19 death, even if that wasn’t their cause of death, citing a report that a motorcycle crash victim was classified as such.
8 On Your Side is looking into the governor’s assertions.
At the press conference Thursday, DeSantis continued to emphasize the importance of reopening schools in August.
“Our kids are ones who are, they’re the least at risk for this by far, they’re the least important in terms of transmitting the virus, and yet they’ve really suffered a lot under the control measures that have been put in place since mid-March,” DeSantis said. “I believe we need to give parents the options to get their kids back into face-to-face. If a parent doesn’t want to do that, then they should absolutely have the right to do distance learning, but the problems that will mount by keeping kids out of school indefinitely, I think will be really significant.”
DeSantis said he’s looking at ways to improve COVID-19 testing in the state, such as giving seniors, health care workers, first responders, high risk individuals and those who have been exposed to the virus top priority status at coronavirus testing sites.
He also said 30,000 more bottles of Remdesivir, a drug cleared to treat COVID-19, are on their way to Florida hospitals.
“I think the physicians like it. I think they’ve asked for more,” DeSantis said. “This is something that is important to have and if they believe that it’s helping.”
He continued to urge Floridians to give blood if they have antibodies from COVID-19. He said OneBlood was seeing an increase in inquiries and traffic on their website.
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