By John Haughey | The Center Square
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledged Friday the state is seeing a COVID-19 resurgence, citing “erosions in social distancing, particularly among our younger generation” as primary contributors.
The Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 dashboard Friday afternoon reported the state has had 89,748 COVID-19 cases and 3,104 people have died from the disease.
DOH reported nearly 3,400 new cases Thursday, setting another successive single-day record. New daily cases have topped 1,000 for 17 of the past 18 days.
DeSantis expanded testing of asymptomatic people in random tests and, as people return to work, employer screenings. Data show the average age of a COVID-19 positive Floridian is 37 years old, far below the state’s median age.
According to DOH, the average age of people who tested positive for COVID-19 last week in Broward County was 33 years old, 39 in Duval County, 31 in Hillsborough County, 29 in Orange County and 26 in Seminole County.
That median age will “continue to go down based on what we have seen in the last few days,” DeSantis said, noting more than 60 percent of “new” positive cases over the past week are under 45 years old.
“That is a big change from where we were at the end of March, the beginning of April. (Victims) were much older at that time,” DeSantis said, noting the “clinical consequences” of 100 COVID-19 diagnoses among nursing home residents would exceed those for 1,000 “low-risk” people under 30 testing positive.
The rate of positive tests versus tests given for people in their 20s and 30s was more 10 percent the past week, DeSantis said.
“That is something that we are keeping an eye on,” he said.
Younger people getting tested more often as public health officials target asymptomatic people in random or employment-related screenings “is a good thing,” DeSantis said.
“Obviously, there is a correlation” between mass demonstrations that swept through Florida the past two weeks and increased positivity among younger people, DeSantis said.
TV media’s fixation with nationwide protests also may have contributed to higher youth positivity rates by offering “mixed messages,” DeSantis said, noting the same outlets that shamed “somebody for walking on the beach” praised protesters thronging together in demonstrations and forgoing “social distancing for social justice.”
DeSantis said “massive” nationwide protests unfolded just as new case numbers among younger people in Florida began to increase, but he supports protesters exercising their Constitutional rights.
“The Constitution is not suspended just because you have a pandemic,” he said, noting most Florida protests were peaceful.
With a younger demographic the positive majority, DeSantis said, “You are definitely seeing a different question” about how to proceed.
“You are not going to see the type of clinical consequences from this cohort that you would from a nursing home, but these people spread it throughout the community,” he said, calling for strict compliance with social distancing and hygiene protocols.
“At the end of the day, we put out the CDC’s guidelines in May; wear a mask when you cannot social distance in a face-to-face business,” he said, noting he won’t issue any statewide compliance orders, leaving it to local governments to determine “what works well” on “their own trajectories.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez said 300,000 people visited Miami in the past month and that it “cannot go back” to a stay-at-home shutdown.
Giménez said enforcement of rules in his urban area’s reopening plan, which “took a lot of time to format,” is “the step we are going to take in Miami-Dade County.”
“We’re going to be serious about the enforcement actions we take,” Giménez said. “Our concern is, obviously the younger you are, the less likely this can hurt you, but you can take it home to your grandparents.”