TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron Desantis downplayed the danger of the spread of the COVID-19 virus in a press conference on June 20, while admitting the state’s number of positive cases continues to increase.
“Somebody who tests positive may not have any symptoms at all and not even know they are infected,” he said.
He said earlier this year only those who had symptoms, had high risk factors or had traveled to areas known to have COVID-19 outbreaks were tested. With more testing in May and June, many people who are being tested have no symptoms.
“We knew there were a lot of people who carried this who were not symptomatic,” he said.
More people in their 20s and 30s are being tested now because they are returning to work, he continued, and their employers are asking them to be tested.
When Florida started testing in March, the median age of COVID-19 positive cases was 65, he said. He said now the median age is in the 30s.
“We’re seeing a major shift in this direction with this 20 to 30 year old population, mostly asymptomatic,” said the governor.
“Our cases are shifting in a radical direction younger,” he said.
He said COVID-19 cases in the younger population have less clinical significance because the younger people are less likely to need hospitalization.
“Every hospital I have talked to said they are testing every single patient who comes in for every procedure,” he said. “Some hospitals test everyone who walks in the door. What they find is almost all of them are asymptomatic.”
He said the state wants to send a message on doubling down on recommendations such as social distancing.
“DBPR (Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation) will be enforcing that,” he said. He said DBPR will enforce everything that is in the guidelines. For example restaurants are required to limit capacity and restaurant staff must wear face coverings.
He said the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions need to be more aware of the dangers, and the increased risk of transmission. Older people need to continue to be careful to avoid crowded areas.
Social distancing is something that is very important. “It’s very reasonable,” he said. “It will make a difference in the effort to minimize transmission.”
The governor stressed the importance for everyone to follow the CDC recommendations to reduce the spread of the disease.
• Maintain social distancing.
• Use facial covers in places such as grocery stores where you can’t social distance.
• If you are sick, stay home.
• Practice hand washing and sanitation.
Following the recommendations to wear a cloth mask and maintain social distance does not take much effort, he said. “If you can’t social distance, it’s recommended to wear a face covering.”
In South Central Florida, the median age for COVID-19 positive cases, as of June 20, was:’
• Okeechobee County, age 34;
• Glades County, age 38;
• Hendry County, age 37;
• Palm Beach County, age 44;
• Highlands County, 51;
• DeSoto County, 34;
• Collier County, 41.