Ron DeSantis on Rising Coronavirus Cases in Florida: Many Are ‘Not Symptomatic’

Nurse Canan Emcan shows a test kit for coronavirus samples at the isolation ward of the Uniklinikum Essen university hospital in Essen, western Germany, on March 9, 2020. - The number of coronavirus cases in Germany has passed 1,000, official data from the Robert Koch Institute disease control centre showed. …
INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday addressed the mounting concerns over the increase in positive coronavirus cases in Florida by attempting to put it in perspective, emphasizing the number of tests conducted, number of asymptomatic cases, and the lowering median age of those testing positive.

In a press conference on Friday, DeSantis highlighted the rapidly growing number of positive coronavirus cases in the state of Florida, which saw 3,822 new cases on Friday.

The governor noted that the state has conducted more than 1.5 million tests and hopes to reach 2 million “very soon,” but he emphasized the importance of looking at the trends — namely, the median age of those who are testing positive for the virus:

We know now after having dealt with the coronavirus for all these months that the mortality and morbidity is very closely linked to age, and those under 40, in particular, who don’t have any significant underlying conditions, are much, much less likely to be hospitalized or to suffer fatality.

DeSantis explained that at the beginning of the pandemic, the median age was in the 60s, although he noted that fewer tests were conducted, as there were greater restrictions on who could be tested.

The state has since experienced a “dramatic decline” of that median age as testing capacity has increased.

The median age as of last week dropped to 37, he said, explaining that the age is continuing to decline, as reflected in individual counties.

The median age of positive cases “for today,” per the governor:

  • Broward: 33
  • Duval: 30
  • Hillsborough: 31
  • Seminole: 26
  • Orange County: 29
  • Miami-Dade: 41
  • Palm Beach: 40

The majority, 62 percent, of new cases in Florida from the week of June 7 are under the age of 45, DeSantis added.

“I think that percentage is going to increase once we get this week’s results,” he said, noting that it represents a significant change from the numbers the Sunshine State saw in late March and early April — numbers which skewed toward an older, more vulnerable population.

“I think it’s important for people to understand, a lot of the people testing positive now are not symptomatic, he said, noting that hospitals test anyone who comes in for procedures and adding that those who test positive “are almost always asymptomatic.”

“So particularly in the younger cohort …  you’re finding infections with minimal or zero symptoms. That’s a little bit different than what we did at the beginning of the pandemic,” he continued, adding that asymptomatic young people were largely discouraged — or prevented — from getting tests at the start of the pandemic.

“A new case is just a positive test. It doesn’t mean somebody’s sick,” DeSantis emphasized. “The number of cases is not necessarily something that’s going to tell you what the burden of the disease is.”

On Friday, Florida reported 97,346 positive cases tallied since March 1.

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