Experts: Florida Could Become Next Coronavirus ‘Epicenter’

A foodserver at the Parkshore Grill restaurant wears a protective face mask as he waits on customers Monday, May 4, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Several restaurants are reopening with a 25% capacity as part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' plan to stop the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Chris …
Chris O'Meara/AP Photo

Florida could become the next coronavirus hot spot say experts cited by CNN, arguing the Sunshine State has “all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission.”

CNN, in a Thursday article detailing the rise in cases in several states, appealed to a model by scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, which assessed Florida, with a population of over 21 million, has “all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission.”

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told CNN such an outbreak could have “catastrophic consequences” due to the older population and thousands of nursing home facilities across the state. However, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has been reluctantly praised by his critics for his swift action to protect the most vulnerable at the start of the pandemic, prioritizing residents of long-term care facilities by strictly barring who could enter them.

His administration prohibited positive coronavirus patients from reentering the facilities — an action that blue state leaders, like Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), did not initially do. Rather, both states initially instructed nursing homes and personal care facilities to accept stable patients who had tested positive for the virus, leading to thousands of deaths stemming from nursing homes and personal care facilities.

As Breitbart News reported:

A full ten days before the scandalous New York order or nursing homes, Florida’s Division of Emergency Management on March 15 issued its own executive order tightly regulating entry into nursing homes, including strict rules of admission for staff and incoming patients.

The Florida agency’s coordinator, who was designated by DeSantis as the state’s coordinating officer for the pandemic, issued a March 15 mandate that prohibited entry into nursing homes except for a narrow list.

[…]

On March 18, Florida also imposed a universal rule mandating face masks in nursing homes. And it later established Coronavirus-dedicated nursing homes.

DeSantis this week has acknowledged the rising cases in Florida but stressed that it will not stop the state from continuing its careful process of reopening, emphasizing his commitment to protecting the state’s most vulnerable population.

“We’re not shutting down, we’re gonna go forward, we’re gonna continue to protect the most vulnerable,” DeSantis said during Tuesday’s press conference.

“You have to have society function, you have to be able to have a cohesive society, that’s the best way to be able to deal with the impacts of the virus,” he continued.

“But particularly when you have a virus that disproportionately impacts one segment of society, to suppress a lot of working-age people at this point I don’t think would likely be very effective,” the governor explained.

The Florida Department of Health announced 3,207 new coronavirus cases in the state on Thursday, marking the highest single day increase and bringing the total positive cases to 90,776 since March 1. Over 50 percent of the positive cases stem from Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties — counties that have largely remained on a different reopening pace than the rest of the state due to the concentrated number of cases.

The jump in cases corresponds with the state’s reopening and the increase in testing capacity, as the state has distributed roughly 1.5 million tests, with 5.5 percent yielding positive results.

DeSantis noted the increase in testing, as well as the fact that intensive care hospitalizations and deaths have gone down over the last two months.

“You’re expanding testing, which is important but you’re also going into now, which the state was not doing two months ago, into high-risk environments,” the governor explained.

USA Today reported:

The governor also noted that the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care unit beds and on ventilators has gone down significantly over the last 60 days. He said there are 6,400 ventilators “sitting idle.”

DeSantis stressed that nobody in Florida under 18 has died of the disease, and he highlighted the steady decline in the number of deaths not tied to nursing homes.

“From the general public’s perspective to understand the risk I think is very important,” DeSantis said.

This would not be the first time experts have predicted Florida to be a coronavirus hotspot, as many stated the Sunshine State would become the next Italy or New York after DeSantis refused to rush harsh lockdown orders.

“You look at some of the most draconian orders that have been issued in some of these states and compare Florida in terms of our hospitalizations per 100,000, in terms of our fatalities per 100,000,” DeSantis said during an April 28 meeting with President Trump.

“I mean you go from D.C., Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, you name it; Florida’s done better,” he continued.

“But everyone in the media was saying Florida was going to be like New York or Italy, and that has not happened because we understood we have a big, diverse state,” he added.

Florida’s coronavirus death toll stood at 3,154 as of Thursday, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

 

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