MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A lower percentage of people getting tested in Florida for COVID-19 are testing positive.
That’s one of the important factors that will signal when it’s okay to re-open parts of South Florida’s economy.
When that happens, it’ll be a regional effort.
Local leaders have said they will take their cue from Governor Ron DeSantis.
Approximately five weeks ago, social distancing and closures were implemented. Models at the time predicted that the virus would spread rapidly across the state. There were also concerns that healthcare facilities would be overrun. So we stayed home to flatten the curve.
DeSantis said we did it and perhaps the models, and the media, got it wrong.
“In fact, there was an article in March in the Miami Herald that said this week in April we could see 465,000 people hospitalized throughout the State of Florida. The reality is slightly more than 2,000. Those predictions have been false, our work is succeeding, we have flattened the curve,” he said on Tuesday.
The governor also pushed back against weeks of scary headlines warning the coronavirus would hit Florida hard.
“We did not go the way of Italy. We did not go the way of New York City. In fact, we did much much better than either of those places,” said DeSantis.
On Tuesday, the Re-Open Florida Task Force held a phone conference. They are looking at how to get tourism, restaurants, and hotels up and running.
“It is important that we get medical professionals on the task force and follow their lead on these things,” said state Rep. Shervin Jones.
Jones pointed out the task force has just one medical professional, a hospital CEO. He worries the state is moving to fast and could end up worse off.
“The truth is you could open the businesses back up but if I open the businesses back up and no one shows up because they are scared or sick, it makes no sense. We might as well do it right the first time so we don’t have to backtrack,” he said.
Most agree rapid testing is needed to re-open, something Florida has increased significantly but still is way short on.
“We are probably going to have more testing sites in the next phase than in this phase because we don’t know what’s going to happen, what’s going to pop up or what,” said DeSantis.
On Tuesday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control told the Washington Post a second wave is not only expected but, “there’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.”
Meanwhile, DeSantis is trying to reassure Florida that worst may be behind us.
“We are going to be okay. We are not out of the woods. This is something we are going to have to deal with,” he said.
The re-open task force is expected to make their recommendations to the governor on Friday.
The safer at home order, as of right now, ends next week. DeSantis declined to say what he plans to do but he did indicate the data is trending towards what is needed to be able to reopen.
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