TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As cases of coronavirus continue to surge in Florida, U.S. Congressman Greg Steube – who represents parts of the Tampa Bay area – says he’s not sure how accurate the data is.
“You’re seeing an increase in numbers. But those numbers, I don’t think, are entirely accurate,” he said.
The Republican Congressman told Nexstar DC correspondent Kellie Meyer he’s been in touch with the CEOs of hospitals in his district, which includes parts of Highlands, Polk and Sarasota counties. While talking to one CEO this week about what’s happening on the frontlines, Steube said she reported some inconsistencies when it came to test results.
“She said her hospital was sending results to a lab and the lab was coming back as positive. And they decided to send them to a different lab and that lab said those test results were negative,” Steube said. “So you’re getting a lot of false positives.”
Steube also said hospitals in his area have reported that they have enough ventilators and personal protective equipment.
“If you look at the hospitalization numbers – and I get the numbers every single day from my nine counties I represent – the hospitalizations have stayed flat,” he said.
Dr. John Greene, the chief of infectious diseases at Moffitt, previously told 8 On Your Side hospitals and administrators were concerned about having enough beds.
Steube said the bottom line is people who are considered “at-risk” for serious complications from COVID-19 should take steps to protect themselves.
“I think people need to continue to follow the CDC guidelines. If you’re in those high-risk categories, which a lot of people in my district are…if you feel you’re at risk and you have those complicating medical conditions then stay at home,” Steube said. “Have your food delivered. When you go out, wear a mask. Do the things you need to do to protect yourself.”
As cases increase, some counties and cities throughout the state have started issuing mask mandates. Despite calls from Florida officials like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to issue a statewide mask order. Instead, the governor said he’s trusting Floridians to make good choices.
Rep. Steube agrees with the governor’s choice.
“I don’t support issuing a statewide mask mandate,” he said. “I think that’s hugely overly burdensome for a government to tell people what they can and cannot do and wear on their face when they leave their house.”
We also asked Rep. Steube about access to testing. We’ve heard from many in the Tampa Bay area who have struggled to get access to a coronavirus test. But Steube said it doesn’t seem to be a problem in his district.
“In my district, I have a testing site that I drive by on a pretty regular basis…I’ve never even seen a line there,” he said. “Again in my district, I’ve talked to CEOs in my hospitals and they have plenty of testing kits, they have plenty of testing swabs.”
Steube admitted it was difficult at the beginning of the pandemic to secure swabs and test kits in the state but said there should be enough now.
“That’s not an issue that I’m seeing in talking to my health care providers and talking to the different health officials in my district,” he said.
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