New FEMA coronavirus testing sites opening, but not everyone will be tested
Ron DeSantis

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DeSantis says the majority of the people they're seeing infected are under 60 years old.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Saturday that the state is work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to establish Covid-19 testing sites.

The sites are located in Jacksonville, Miami, and Orlando.

The site at Miami will be at the Hard Rock stadium and opens Monday. The Orlando site is at the Orange County Convention Center and opens Wednesday. In Jacksonville, it’s located at the Jaguars Stadium. The Jacksonville site has already opened and has seen some light traffic. The sites are federally-funded, state managed and locally-run.

More than 745 samples were collected Friday in the first day of operation for a new coronavirus testing center in Broward County. On Saturday, the site collected another 450 samples. DeSantis says another 5,000 testing kits are on the way to Broward. An additional state-supported site at the Villages is expected to be up and running Monday morning.

With increased testing around the state in recent days, the expected surge in positive tests for novel coronavirus registered Saturday morning.

The 11 a.m. report from Florida’s Department of Health registered more grim milestones, including two new deaths in Broward and Duval Counties, bringing the statewide total to 12.

Total cases are up to 763, from 658 on Saturday morning. Of those, 706 are Florida residents.

DeSantis looking into identifying hotels and convention centers where people who are diagnosed with coronavirus or have symptoms and awaiting test results could be isolated. He says it may be best to take them out of their houses, where other family members could be infected.

The state is looking at other medical facilities, convention centers and hotels where patients can also get medical care and recover.

“We’re absolutely considering that. Hopefully it doesn’t get to that. But we’re planning for that, for sure. I think that’s the prudent thing to do,” the governor said about isolating people away from families.

“The reason you want to do that is if somebody comes and tests positive, if you send them back home, they’re likely to infect the people they come into close contact with in their home,” he added. “Then the virus continues to spread.”

DeSantis says while there’s still some hospital capacity, they’re looking for more. The state has with 18,000 available beds out of 55,000 and there’s 1,700 intensive care beds.

The hotbeds for the virus are still urban areas in South Florida.

Miami-Dade has 142 positive cases and Broward County has 128 cases, with 246 pending tests likely to boost that number.

DeSantis says the majority of the people they’re seeing infected are under 60 years old.

He is asking people not to panic as they take precautions against coronavirus.

“I really worry about the effect this is going to have on mental health in this state and in the country,” he said.

He says there’s three deaths due to the coronavirus at a Broward County assisted living facility and there’s 1o positive cases there. He says law enforcement and someone from the Centers for Disease Control are on-site.

“You know if you’re in this business to take of people who may be susceptible to this, you shouldn’t need to have someone breathing down your neck,” he said. “You should do the right thing and protect the folks in Florida who are most vulnerable.”

The Governor issued four executive orders Friday, reinforcing social distancing measures to “flatten the curve” of new infections.

One Executive Order closed restaurant dining rooms and gyms for the duration of the state’s state of emergency, currently slated to expire May 8.

In the order, DeSantis pointed to a need for “social distancing” to try to prevent the spread of the highly contagious and deadly virus known as COVID-19.

“I am committed to supporting retailers, restaurants and their employees as they pursue creative business practices that safely serve consumers during this temporary period of social distancing and … as Governor, I am responsible for meeting the dangers presented to this state and its people by this emergency,” part of the order said.

The announcement will affect a huge part of Florida’s economy and workforce. It will last as long as Florida is in a state of emergency, which DeSantis declared March 9. The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation will have enforcement power.

Also mandated: “closures of gymnasiums and fitness centers within the State of Florida” and a temporary halt on elective surgeries.

DeSantis also closed beaches and more in two hard-hit South Florida counties.

The Governor has also directed all movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gymnasiums, fitness studios and beaches to close in Broward County and Palm Beach County. It will remain in effect until the state of emergency ends.

The next report from the Florida Department of Health drops at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to [email protected]


One comment

  • L j Corry

    March 22, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Isolating family members will just result in people deciding to NOT be tested, even if sick! A full state lockdown is the only way right now!

Comments are closed.


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