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Ron DeSantis, on Fourth of July coronavirus risk: ‘take some small precautions'

But the governor stopped short of telling the state to stay home this weekend.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference Wednesday, July 1, 2020 in Daytona Beach.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference Wednesday, July 1, 2020 in Daytona Beach. [ The Florida Channel ]
Published Jul. 1, 2020|Updated Jul. 1, 2020

TALLAHASSEE ― Gov. Ron DeSantis said he doesn’t believe all Floridians need to stay home during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

But the state’s vulnerable should be extra cautious, the Republican governor said at a news conference in Dayton Beach Wednesday.

“You can do a lot of things, if you just take some small precautions, you’re going to be ok,” DeSantis said, adding later: “Be cautious of parents and grandparents in the interactions that you may have.”

DeSantis said he is not as worried about the virus spreading at outdoor events held at places like parks or beaches.

It’s the indoor events, he said, that are a concern.

“By and large, the virus does not like sunshine, heat and humidity,” DeSantis said. “I’m more concerned about people crowding into the A/C and having private parties.”

Although statewide reported case numbers were down somewhat Wednesday from the record high of more than 9,500 over the weekend, that could be attributed to a related decrease in overall testing. On June 27, the record-setting day, the state reported more than 72,000 test results.

Florida reported just about 45,000 results Wednesday, logging about 6,500 positive cases.

That means the positive test rate ― the rate of tests that come back positive ― has hovered around 15 percent throughout this recent surge in cases.

DeSantis once again noted that many of the reported cases are young people who are less at risk for the worst clinical outcomes.

Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said even if Florida’s coronavirus spike is mostly attributed to people age 18-44, any spread poses dangers for the vulnerable.

“I don’t think we can just say, ‘We’ll let it spread in the younger people and hope that we can keep the nursing homes safe,' because that has not worked so far,” Lipsitch said.

DeSantis has long prioritized protecting long term care facilities in the state. National figures show that more than 40% coronavirus deaths in America have been linked to nursing homes.

On Wednesday, signs emerged that Florida’s recent surge in cases, youth-driven though it may be, is jeopardizing local hospitals. In Miami-Dade county, Jackson Health Systems announced it would cut back on elective surgeries because the system is seeing “steady increase” in COVID-19 patients. Memorial Healthcare System, another south Florida hospital chain, also announced it would cancel non-emergency surgeries.


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