MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida will have thousands of additional coronavirus testing kits in place by this weekend, according to Governor Ron DeSantis.

In a news conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital Thursday morning, the Governor said Florida needs to increase its testing capabilities and he is working to make that happen.

“I’ve directed Jared Moskowitz with our Emergency Operations Center to purchase 2,500 commercially available testing kits and we are receiving those this weekend,” said DeSantis. “Testing kits will give qualified labs across the state the capacity to process tests for up to 625,000 individuals. I directed our Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to strategically distribute these testing kits to 50 CLIA certified labs throughout the state starting with hospitals so testing can be closer to the patient and Jackson Memorial Hospital will be one of the first hospitals to receive the testing kits.”

WATCH: Gov. Ron DeSantis at JMH in Miami

 

Gov. DeSantis said his main priorities in fighting the spread of the virus are to protect the most vulnerable residents, which are the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, protecting health care workers, monitor international and high-risk travel, and social distancing.

“I am recommending local municipalities and private entities to strongly consider limiting or postponing mass gatherings in the state of Florida,” the governor said. “This is an opportunity, our health officials believe, where some of these large-scale events can be postponed and do it later.”

He also said if local community events continue, they should have organized screening measures.Those measures would include having people at entryways of events asking attendees if they are sick, have been in contact with people that may have been sick or have recently traveled.

The Governor also suspended all non-essential travel for state workers for at least 30 days.

DeSantis said he also directed state agencies to allow people to work from home where possible.

“The state has a workforce of over 90,000 individuals whose health and well-being are a priority,” DeSantis said. “If they can perform functions at home, now is a good time to do that.”

On Wednesday, DeSantis’ administration ordered long-term care facilities to temporarily block people from visiting residents if those people have recently traveled internationally, been on cruise ships or been in contact with someone who has the novel coronavirus.

The Florida Department of Corrections has suspended visits at all prisons.

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According to the Florida Department of Health, 31 Florida residents have tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19, and two have died.

Gov. DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Florida on Monday, making it easier for him to get extra out-of-state medical personnel if needed and it allows Florida to receive federal funding to purchase things like masks and medical supplies to set up field hospitals.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho held a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Carvalho said the school system is active and ongoing.

“There is no cessation of teaching and learning. At this point, we do not envision and have no reason to shut down any classroom, any school, collection of schools or district as a whole,” said Carvalho.

Watch the Carvalho press conference in its entirety:

Carvalho says there is not a single confirmed case of the virus impacting any employee or student.

The school chief also says he is not canceling sports, extracurricular activities or after school activities.

He reminded the public there is a hotline set up to answer questions and control rumors at (305) 995-3000.

Peter D'Oench

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