MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – As coronavirus cases spike in Florida, Governor Ron Desantis is attributing the alarming trend to increased testing, outbreaks in high-risk areas like jails, assisted living facilities and migrant worker communities.
Speaking in Miami on Friday, DeSantis said the state has already tested 1.5 million people and hopes to have two million tested very soon. The governor said the new cases of positive COVID-19 cases are under the age of 45.
“We are about one test for every 15 people, which is a pretty good clip, and we are going to continue doing that. I think one of the things, when you look at the trend, is very important is what is the median age of those people testing positive. And the reason why is that we know now after having dealt with coronavirus for all these months, that the mortality and morbidity is very closely linked to age. Those under 40 in particular who don’t have any significant underlying conditions are much less likely be hospitalized or suffer a fatality,” he said.
The governor said when they started, the median age for the testing was in the 60s and there wasn’t a lot of testing done. He said the median age slowly went down and as of last week the median age of all the positive tests was 37.
“I can tell you with the cases we are seeing this week, which has been increased cases, that median age is plunging even further. So for the results that came out today, for June 18th, the median age of positive tests is this for the following counties. Broward County’s median age is down to 33…Dade County’s median age was 41,” he said.
The governor said we will continue to see the median age go down. He added that 62 percent of all new cases in the state for the week of June 7th are under the age of 45 and expects that percentage to increase once they get this week’s results.
DeSantis said he expected case numbers to rise when testing increased, which contradicts the assertions by epidemiologists that case numbers should go down with greater testing because theoretically health officials should be able to trace the cases and slow the spread of the virus.
WATCH: Gov. Ron DeSantis News Conference On COVID-19 Increases
“A lot of people testing positive are asymptomatic,” said the governor.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says he’s worried that the younger population Who have no symptoms could spread the virus to their parents and grandparents.
Gimenez says they are sending police and code enforcement throughout the county to make sure people and businesses are following social distancing requirements and wearing masks indoors.
Gimenez says contrary to reports that Hospital beds are getting scarcer, there are ample spaces to treat COVID illness.
The CEO of Jackson Health agreed.
“We have 150 COVID patients. Forty-five are in the ICU. If our numbers double we would have the beds available,” he said.
Statewide, Friday, the total number of COVID cases exceeded 89,000 with over 3,100 deaths.
President Donald Trump has set the tone for Republican governors from the top, intently focusing on ensuring that the economy recovers as the November election looms.
Trump described the virus as “fading away” during an interview this week as he prepares to host a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday that could pack thousands of people into an arena with no requirement for participants to wear masks.
Vice President Mike Pence urged governors during a call this week to highlight ramped up testing in their states as a reason coronavirus cases are rising. Pence, who heads the administration’s coronavirus task force, declared on Thursday in Michigan that the nation has proven “that we can safely reopen America.”
“Every single day we are one day closer to putting the coronavirus in the past,” Pence said during remarks at a Michigan steel plant Thursday. “We slowed the spread. We flattened the curve. We cared for the most vulnerable, and we saved lives.”
Those claims by Trump and Pence, however, are not supported by the facts. Twenty-three states saw an increase in new cases between June 10 and 17, according to a CNN analysis of data from John Hopkins University.
Florida and Texas are two of the 10 states experiencing record-high seven-day averages of new coronavirus cases, according to the analysis.
Florida officials are pointing to an “aggressive testing” strategy in their state, where DeSantis noted that health officials have made testing available to every resident of a long-term care facility as well as to the employees who work there.
Florida, which allowed certain businesses to reopen on May 4, announced its highest single-day count Friday since the pandemic began.
“Certainly as we reopened, we did expect to see an increase — but not like this,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said during an interview on CNN’s “At This Hour” Thursday. (The number of cases reported each day in Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg is located, has risen dramatically since early June).
“There are all kinds of alarm bells that are going off for me,” said Kriseman, a Democrat. “I’m not comfortable with what I see happening in my community,” he said, explaining his decision to require business employees to wear masks if they come face-to-face with customers beginning on Friday. “I think you’re going to see mayors across the state of Florida that are going to take actions in response to these numbers because we’re just not seeing that from our leadership in Tallahassee.”
But DeSantis this week rejected the notion that reopening Florida businesses led to the record numbers of cases, and said he did not think a requirement to wear masks is necessary. Restaurants, he noted, have been open for close to six weeks in some areas: “The idea that all of a sudden is the reason (for the increase), I’m not sure that’s the case.”
“So no, we’re not shutting down, we’re going to go forward,” DeSantis said. “We’re going to continue to protect the most vulnerable. We’re going to urge, continue to advise, particularly our elderly population to maintain social distancing, avoid crowds.”
The Florida governor noted that from the beginning of the outbreak, he has recommended people wear masks if they are face-to-face with another person, or can’t socially distance. But, he said: “You don’t need to be wearing it if you are going for a jog or you’re on the beach. And so, some of this stuff can get out of hand. I want to be reasonable about it.”
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