‘We’re not rolling back’: Ron DeSantis defends reopening amid rising COVID cases
Despite a recent rash of new coronavirus cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state won't be shutting down again.

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Florida reached 80,000 COVID-19 cases Tuesday.

Florida is seeing a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, but Gov. Ron DeSantis says the majority of those cases are in agriculture and correction facilities or attributable to the increase in testing.

In Tuesday’s daily coronavirus report, state health officials reported a record 2,783 newly confirmed cases of the virus, and total diagnoses throughout the pandemic have topped 80,000. But with testing reaching an average of 30,000 people per day, that exceeds the amount of testing conducted during the virus’ April peak, when about 1,300 tested positive.

“Back in April, I made the point that as you test more, you will see more cases because you’re identifying those sub-clinical cases that just would not have been tested previously,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday in Tallahassee. “And I said you could see 2,000 cases a day in a state this big. That was something that was definitely in the offer for this, and it’s just because of how you’re doing the testing, especially if you’re expanding it as aggressively as I thought that you needed to do.”

That means “we’re not rolling back”: no additional lockdowns and no mask-wearing requirement beyond the CDC’s recommendation that people wear them in close quarters. DeSantis declined to comment on whether the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville should require masks.

“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.”

But he encouraged businesses like restaurants to require masks if the individual businesses felt like it was necessary to protect their workers.

“The masks, we’ve basically said from the beginning, if you can’t social distance or if you’re in a face-to-face, then the masks are recommended. But you don’t need to be wearing it if you’re 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 more reasonable about it,” DeSantis said.

Counties with high or an increasing number of cases are almost always linked to agriculture or correctional facilities, he said. One watermelon farm he highlighted in Alachua County had a 90% positivity rate among 100 people tested. But with migrant farmers and incarcerated Floridians spending less time interacting with the broader public, often asymptomatically, he suggested those cases shouldn’t factor into a statewide lockdown.

“I think the negative effects of that would far (exceed) any gains you’re getting,” he said. “Would shutting down the state stop some of the examples that I showed? I don’t think so, and so you have to have society function. You have to be able to have a cohesive society.”

However, a spokesperson for Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Florida’s sole statewide-elected Democrat, said many spiking areas are in non-agricultural counties like Broward, Duval and Hillsborough counties.

“There is evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in areas where farms are located, but the vast majority of farmworkers left agricultural communities several weeks ago, as harvests have ended,” Franco Ripple said.

In intensive care units, more hospital beds are available now than there were at the beginning of the pandemic. Currently, about 24% of beds are available, DeSantis said.

The Governor dismissed fears out of Palm Beach County, where the county’s lead health department official told the County Commission on Tuesday that coronavirus-related hospitalization rates were on the rise.

“Obviously you don’t want to, but what happens is you’ll have certain areas where you’ll have to clear out a nursing home … so there are times where you’ll send 50 people to the hospital who are in a nursing home,” he said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


8 comments

  • Sonja Fitch

    June 16, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    Duffus Desantis is pleasing his master goptrump cult leader trump! Die Floridians Die! Are we over 100000 covid 19 cases?

  • Jesse

    June 17, 2020 at 12:02 am

    Good Writing. Thank you.

  • Dale Bush

    June 17, 2020 at 8:42 am

    He’s not going to do anything unless trump says it’s okay ok. His eyes are on a bigger White House position. Hope he doesn’t kill a inch of us doing it.

  • James C Williams

    June 17, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Ron “mini-Trump” DeSantis. Can’t call him a leader. Pathetic!

  • Craig Smith

    June 17, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    DeSantis has to choose between protecting the lives of Florida seniors or Trump’s ego. Sorry seniors.

  • jim T.

    June 18, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    Ron DeSantis, How many Floridians are you willing to infect and kill to have Donald’s Pep Rally in Jacksonville?

  • Margaret Ann Blustine

    June 18, 2020 at 7:24 pm

    De santis is saying all lie after lie.look at hospitalizations. We’re 113 a day june 1 average 4 days already. June 18 average day was 158.
    His increasing severely hospital numbers he reported.cases are triple worse day since virus hit. People of all races.it’s need to band together call out his lies.your articletc is doing thayt.the tv reporters need to do that.numbers are there.if he and trump had spent our fedl resources in February fast like other countries did we would have no Virus now jobs would be staying. America and florida realize how tragic Floyd’s death was. America and florida all races realize and band together for lost jobs deaths sickness lost homes standing in food lines lost businesses the worst america has ever had.because ofor trump and de santis not wanting spend our money to help or save us. Democrats didn’t make america I this condition of horror worse in the world.trump and Republicans like lying de sanoise did. Democrats trying a month get 2nd stimulus pkg trump won’t there is no Republican party anymore.it’s become under trump a deadly dictatorship.Obama and biden never let this happen to us.they stopped 2 pandemics FAST BY SPENDING MONEY A LOT FAST AND SAVED US FROM WHAT TRUMP HAS DONE TO US. AND HE DOESN’T CARE BECAUSE HE’S DOING NOTHING. 5 PERCENT TESTING A DEADLY JOKE.DE SANTIS TESTING 1 MILLION PEOPLE OF 20 MILLION IN FLORIDA A DEADLY JOKE. CAsES ARE EXPLODING.HOSPITALIZATIONS ARE EXPLODING. De santis doing so little compared to what he should have done like trump is dooming us as he pushes ahead doing lying causing more death loss of jobs no food hospitalservice overwhelmed again fast. New York governor fought hard beat virus.de santis doest fight for anyone but trump and de santis.and together for 280000 American tragic deaths.speak out.stop trumps making america even worse than worst country in world he’s already made it.stop de santis letting him lie so blatantly when his own numbers show what a liar he is.demand local leaders ignore him.he’s deadly to business lives jobs businesses. A HE’S PROVEN THAT FOR SURE HASN’T HE.SO HAS TRUMP.BAND TOGETHER HAVE ALL RACES HEARD.IT’S ENOUGH LOOK AT NUMBERS ARE HORRIFIC OF WHOLE WORLD.PUBLIC FORUMS WITH DE SANTIS LIES SHOWN TO HIS FACE BEFORE HE TOTALS FLORIDA MAY BE TOO LATE.BE HEARD NOW

  • Margaret Sebastian

    June 18, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    Who the hell voted for this disaster?

Comments are closed.


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