MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is activating the Florida National Guard to combat the spread of coronavirus in the Sunshine state.
When Gov. DeSantis declared a State of Emergency on Monday, it cleared the way for him to activate the National Guard if needed.
Florida National Guard troops are helping with logistics for the state Emergency Operations Center, which is currently activated at a Level II, to coordinate the state’s response to COVID-19.
“If we have National Guard support, they can help augment medical staff shortages, potentially expand resources and even potentially setting up field medical clinics if that were needed to be the case,” DeSantis said at a news conference at a Health Department warehouse several miles from the state capitol.
More than 400 Guard members are working in seven states — Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island, California and Washington – under the direction of their governors in response to the respiratory illness, COVID-19, according to the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C.
The governor also gave an update on the testing kits the state ordered. Thursday, he announced the state ordered 2,500 testing kits to allow for testing up to 625,000 people to get a better handle on where people were infected. About 1,000 of the kits have already come in.
He said those kits will be distributed to labs and hospitals as soon as possible, beginning in Broward County where there are now 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
DeSantis also announced that 90% of coronavirus tests in the state have come back negative. Currently, there are 221 tests pending with 365 people being monitored.
DeSantis is also prohibiting visitors from all nursing home facilities, assisted living facilities, and long term care facilities in Broward County for 30 days. Earlier in the week, DeSantis had put restrictions on visits to the homes statewide from certain people who may have come into contact with the virus.
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Florida has 51 positive cases of COVID-19, including those eleven in Broward, with two reported deaths in the state according to the Florida Department of Health.