The major existential question for the state of Florida Saturday morning: will COVID-19 overcome capacity on the front lines?
The disease, as of Friday night, is now in every county. And Saturday’s count reveals more diagnoses, hospitalizations, and deaths from the novel coronavirus.
However, Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t worried about “exponential growth,” he told reporters Saturday at the Capitol, even in the hardest-hit areas of the state.
Nonetheless, resources continue to be taxed by the “linear growth” the state is seeing, with 19 new deaths recorded overnight pushing the total to 438.
The state surged to 18,494 cases and 2,528 hospitalizations related to the coronavirus, according to the most recent data released Saturday morning from the Florida Department of Health.
“Flattening the curve,” DeSantis said, was designed to avoid “overwhelming the health care system.”
However, hospital capacity is stronger than normal, due to a ban on elective surgeries: 43% available capacity statewide.
“We have a lot of capacity in our hospitals,” DeSantis said.
But the Governor continues to be confident that if Floridians “keep doing what they’re doing” in terms of social distancing, the state’s resources will be enough to withstand the coronavirus crush.
“Even in Southeast Florida, where we’ve had the most cases so far,” DeSantis is confident in capacity, he said Saturday in Tallahassee.
In Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade, the hardest hit hot spots with three out of every five of Florida’s over 18,000 confirmed cases, even ICU capacity stands under two-thirds full as of Saturday morning.
“It’s not a uniform picture throughout the state of Florida,” DeSantis said regarding the impact of the novel coronavirus, contrasting South Florida spread with the relatively flattened curve in Northeast Florida.
Just in case, however, field hospitals stand at the ready.
Florida will continue to test, with the federal government abandoning testing sites.
Florida officials have taken over responsibility for federal testing sites in Jacksonville, Orange County, and the Miami area.
The Orange County Convention Center and Hard Rock Stadium, in addition to Jacksonville’s Lot J, will be kept going, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday.
“All three of those sites are going to continue,” DeSantis said, with “expanded criteria.”
The cap of tests, set at 250 under federal stewardship, will be relaxed, with 400 tests in Jacksonville.
As well, testing criteria will be expanded.
In addition to testing the elderly and first responders, anybody with coronavirus symptoms, regardless of age, will qualify.
First responders and health care workers, including those at long-term care facilities, will also be tested, the Governor said, along with “anybody who has had close sustained contact with an individual that has recently tested positive.”