Florida has hit a grim milestone—passing 100,000 cases of the coronavirus. The latest report from the state’s Department of Health adds 2,926 new infections to the total number of COVID-19 cases, which now stands at 100,217 with 3,173 deaths.
Along with Florida, six other states have registered more than 100,000 cases: New York, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Texas and Massachusetts.
Like some other states, Florida has seen a surge of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks. A new record high of 4,049 new cases was set Saturday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has linked the rising number of cases to increased testing.
In March and April, testing was limited mostly to elderly people who had symptoms of the coronavirus. Since then, testing has expanded and has been opened to people of all ages, whether they have coronavirus symptoms or not.
DeSantis says many of those testing positive now don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms and many of them are young. He says, “What we’ve seen now has been a really significant increase in positive test results for people in the 20’s and 30’s.” The median age of those testing positive in Florida has declined rapidly, going from 65 in April to under 30 now in some counties. “Our cases are shifting in a radical direction younger,” he says.
DeSantis says he’s concerned about another trend—the rising percentage of people who are testing positive for the virus. He says, “That’s evidence that there’s transmission within those communities, particularly (among people) in the twenties and thirties.” A number of bars across the state closed temporarily last week after staff members and customers contracted COVID-19.
Over the weekend, Florida’s Department of Health reissued guidelines stressing the importance of social distancing and encouraging people to wear face coverings when social distancing isn’t possible.
Despite the surge in new cases, DeSantis says there are no plans to roll back guidelines allowing businesses to reopen. He says the numbers of people going to the hospital for COVID-19 remains far below what they were in March and April. And deaths from the coronavirus in Florida have trended steadily downward for the past seven weeks.
The governor says the coronavirus cases among people in the 20’s and 30’s are typically less acute than among those in the elderly. “If you had a thousand cases under the age of 30,” he says, “that would have (less) clinical significance than if you had 15 cases among residents of a long-term care facility.” For months, DeSantis noted that there had been no deaths in Florida of anyone under age 18. With the death of a 17 year old in Pasco County over the weekend, that’s no longer the case.