DeSantis: Contact tracing ‘not going to be enough’

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Miami Tuesday to give an update on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic amid a surge in cases.

The state reported more than 7,000 cases on Tuesday, with a record high percent positivity among new tests. The death toll is 3,841, up 63 from Monday morning.

DeSantis and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez addressed reporters at Pan American Hospital and said the state had established a 150-bed nursing home for treating COVID-19 patients in South Florida.

According to DeSantis, nursing home residents who have tested positive for the virus are not allowed to return to nursing homes after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. The new facility would be used for nursing home patients who have tested positive for the virus, but don’t necessarily require hospitalizations.

The facility is the 12th of its kind in the state, DeSantis said.

Reporters hammered the governor with questions about the state’s contact tracing program, which hasn’t been able to keep up with an uptick in cases.

DeSantis said he approved $138 million in funding for the health department’s contact tracing program and that county’s can use CARES Act money to fund contact tracing initiatives.

The governor said when it comes to fighting the pandemic, “contact tracing is not going to be enough,” and urged residents to practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings.

“When you have a lot of these asymptomatic 20-year-olds, there is not a lot of contact tracing that’s being effective with them because they haven’t been as cooperative with doing it, and so there are limits to how much, if people aren’t going to cooperate, how much can be done.”

When asked if he knew the total number of contact tracers in the state, DeSantis referred the question to the health department.

“We really have not had a lot of problems in Florida when folks have been following the guidelines,” DeSantis said. “If you go from the beginning of May through the beginning of the second week of June, our statewide positivity rate was under 5%, sometimes it got as low as 3%. That was part of our Phase 1, you had businesses open, but you had people, by in large, following the guidelines.”

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