The growing number of cases of the Chinese coronavirus in Florida has been largely among the younger demographic — the 18-35 age group — Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said on Thursday.
The Sunshine State broke its single-day record for new coronavirus cases on Thursday, reporting 10,109 cases, thus shattering the previously held record recorded Saturday, which saw 9,585 cases.
The state did not fare much better on Friday, reporting 9,488 new cases, bringing Florida’s total — calculated since March 1 — to 178,594. Over 40 percent of those cases stem from Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties.
However, Gov. DeSantis explained that the explosion of cases appears among, largely, the younger, less vulnerable population.
“The case growth has really been in that 18 to 34, 35 age group,” DeSantis said during remarks in Tampa, alongside Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. “Now, those are folks that are, by and large, going to be much less prone to significant consequences.”
“Nevertheless, with the increasing positivity rate, it’s clear that you’re seeing more and more community transmission really being driven by that age group,” he explained, noting that the median age in new cases has dropped significantly:
We have the virus community transmission, particularly with younger people. If you look at where — you go back a month, the median age of our cases was in the 50s. Now the median age of the cases here in Hillsborough County for the entire pandemic has dropped to 34. And there’ll be days where we’ll get cases in Hillsborough County and the median age will be under 30. In Orange County, the median age for the whole pandemic is now 32. There’s days where it’ll be 28 and 29. So it’s been a huge shift.
The governor also noted the increase in testing, which is contributing to the slew of new cases:
You know, we are now in a situation where we are testing a lot more. We also have a greater percentage of people testing positive. I mean, throughout May and early June here in Hillsborough County, for example, I think they were testing at about 3 or 4 percent would test positive. Now, we’re looking at places like Hillsborough and in Orange County, no longer 3, 4 percent but now 15 percent of folks are testing positive. Obviously when you’re testing about 60,000 people a day — we’re getting results like that over the last week — that’s going to generate a lot of additional cases.
While the governor has dismissed calls to revert back to a statewide shutdown, he advised the high-risk population to exercise caution and remain vigilant. The general population, he said, should avoid the “three Cs” — closed spaces, crowds, and close contact.
“But basically, the message is, you know, for those folks who are 65 and older, people that have significant underlying medical conditions, you know, do your best to avoid crowds and minimize close contact with people outside your home right now,” DeSantis said.
Vice President Pence also spoke at the press conference and affirmed that “Florida’s hospitals are in good shape” in terms of capacity.
“We’re informed there’s about more than 13,000 total hospital beds available at this time. Availability, 22 percent of hospital capacity. Ventilators, which were an issue before our nation four months ago, at the beginning of this pandemic, are in abundant supply,” Pence said.
“We’re told that there’s more than 5,500 ventilators available across the state of Florida,” he added, noting the abundance of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the state of Florida.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, also requested Floridians under the age of 40, who have attended a gathering, to “go and get tested.”
“Please wear a mask. Please do all of the hygiene issues. And please stay away from those who have comorbidities,” she added.
Florida, with a population of over 21 million, has reported 3,684 coronavirus-related fatalities since March 1.