BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talked coronavirus testing and reopening schools at a press conference in Manatee County Saturday afternoon.
DeSantis met with health officials at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton. He said the state continues to monitor the high percent positivity among new coronavirus tests.
“This is something we’re looking at very seriously,” DeSantis said. “If it gets into the single digits, that’s something that’s a lot more manageable.”
On Friday, 12.64% of people tested for the first time tested positive. The percent positivity has averaged 14.75% since the beginning of July.
“We increased from the end of June into July, but then it’s been plateaued for the last two weeks, which is a good sign,” DeSantis continued. “We’d rather be plateaued at 4%, but we didn’t want to see it continue to just go up and up.”
Governor DeSantis also discussed what he has called “COVID only” long term assisted living facilities, two of which are open in the Tampa Bay area.
The locations will treated patients who do not require hospitalization, but are moved from their assisted living facility so they do not spread the virus.
Carrington Place in St. Petersburg and Oakbridge in Polk County.
The governor said the state has tested 2.4 million people since the pandemic began — one of every nine people in Florida.
DeSantis then discussed the decision to reopen schools in the fall.
“We’re proud of our distance learning in the state of Florida,” he said. “As much as we’re proud of that, there’s an achievement gap that’s developed, there’s no doubt about it. That will only be exacerbated as long as this happens.”
DeSantis said the risk of coronavirus for students is “incredibly low.” While students remain at a relatively low risk from the virus, many are concerned about the family members that could catch something their kid brings home from the school.
“People say, ‘kids may be the vectors then, in the community’… but it’s been found over and over again, as people have looked at this and studied this, particularly in Europe, that the school children aren’t vectors for this, for whatever reason,” DeSantis said. “They usually get infected by the parents. They’re usually not infecting adults.”
DeSantis said he encourages parents to home school their children if they feel comfortable doing so.
“If a parent doesn’t feel comfortable and they want to offer distance learning, look, I believe in school choice across the board,” he said.
Florida reported an additional 10,360 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 254,511 across the state. The number of deaths is 4,197, up 95 from Friday morning.
Watch a replay of the press conference in the video player above.