Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday responded to remarks from Dr. Anthony Fauci — who recently said that states like Florida “opened up too quickly” — pointing out that there was “really no justification to not move forward” and reopen the state at the time.
“I think there was really no justification to not move forward,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Orlando on Friday, explaining that the percentage of positive coronavirus test results was relatively low in May.
“This is a virus that has a five-day incubation period,” the governor said. “So it wouldn’t take six weeks before you started seeing something if [reopening] were the cause.
DeSantis also emphasized that South Florida, which continues to account for a sizeable portion of the cases across the state, reopened at a slightly different pace than the majority of the counties across Florida.
The governor’s defense follows a critique from Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, who said that some states, like the Sunshine State, reopened too quickly.
“Despite the guidelines and the recommendations to open up carefully and prudently, some states skipped over those and just opened up too quickly,” Fauci said during a Thursday appearance on FiveThirtyEight’s “PODCAST-19”. “Certainly Florida … I think jumped over a couple of checkpoints.”
Fauci told the Hill that officials need to “get the states pausing in their opening process.”
“I don’t think we need to go back to an extreme of shutting down,” he clarified.
Florida reported 10,383 new coronavirus cases Saturday and 95 related fatalities, bringing the total to 254,511 cases and 4,197 resident deaths since March 1. Fatalities represent less than two percent of confirmed cases.
Over 40 percent of Florida’s cases stem from the counties Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward.
Roughly 7,000 people in the Sunshine State are presently hospitalized with the coronavirus, according to data from the Agency for Health Care Administration. Over 3,000 of those hospitalizations are in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward as well.