Florida saw over 8,900 confirmed coronavirus cases Friday morning, a new daily record, per the state Department of Health’s latest update.
Governor Ron DeSantis is still attributing that sharp spike to more testing.
“Really nothing has changed in the past week in terms of - we had a big test dump,” DeSantis said.
“If I'm going to get 75,000 test results, like we did today, you're gonna get a certain number of cases. If I got 35,000, like we did earlier, obviously, you'll get less.”
At a news conference in Fort Myers, DeSantis said over the last week, the state is averaging 45,000 tests results per day. He compared it to the last week of May, when the average was around 24,000 results.
DeSantis did say younger people are testing positive for coronavirus in recent weeks, which he attributes to recent protests and a desire to go out and socialize.
“The younger people, you know, if they're partying at somebody's house or something, they're probably not wearing masks. I mean, let's just be honest with that,” DeSantis said.
The governor also blamed protests for pushing COVID-19 coverage to the side.
“People weren't talking about it as much,” DeSantis said. “Then you had two weeks of protests where nobody was talking about it really. It was like coronavirus was no longer here. I think that people looked at that and decided, ‘you know, yeah, let's kind of, we're back to normal, let's kind of go back and do our thing.’”
On Friday, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation suspended all alcohol consumption and sales at bars statewide. Apart from that, DeSantis didn’t bring up any more restrictions in connection to rising cases, including a mask-wearing mandate.
“To do [policing] and put criminal penalties on that is something that is probably gonna backfire,” DeSantis said. “You have seen some localities require it, and they're gonna have to figure out how they're going to use kind of the long arm of the law to enforce it or not.”
Many large Florida cities have decided to implement their own mask-wearing mandates in public places. St. Augustine passed a resolution Friday, with a mandate set to be enforced starting Saturday.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has chosen to keep mask-wearing a strong suggestion.
On Friday, Duval County saw the largest single day rise in confirmed cases with 474.
Due to Florida being able to mitigate the number of cases early on, DeSantis said he was confident the state will be able to handle a larger influx now.
“In March, there was a question about whether there would be enough PPE (personal protective equipment) for folks in hospitals...PPE is in much better shape today than it was in March and April,” DeSantis said.”
On Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the state was pausing plans to reopen as it’s seen a rise in COVID-19 cases as well. DeSantis gave no indication he would take a similar approach but did say on Thursday that Florida is not ready to move to a phase three reopening.
“Some other states did it a different way. I think the way we did it has been successful,” DeSantis said.
Sky Lebron can be reached at email@example.com, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.