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DeSantis: Nursing Home Workers Getting Tests for COVID-19

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

This story originally aired on July 14, 2020.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Gov. Ron DeSantis provided an update on Florida’s coronavirus siege in Miami on Monday, and did not escape the wrath of an in-person protester. And, Pensacola-area residents now have a new source for local COVID-19 numbers.

The governor had just begun his remarks, when a protester confronted him from where the media was positioned.

“You are doing nothing; you are misleading the public,” said the unidentified man talking over the governor. “Over 4,000 people have died, and you guys have no plan and you are doing nothing.”

Once order was restored, DeSantis repeated President Trump’s mantra of more testing mean more coronavirus cases. He pointed to a record number of new cases reported Saturday in Florida – 144,000.

“To put that in perspective, when we were hear in March, we were probably doing hundreds a day; then we got up to doing 5,000 to 10,000 a day,” said the governor. “The whole United States was probably not doing 144,000 tests at the beginning of March.”

On Monday about 112,000 cases were reported -- fewer, says the governor, but still substantial. He adds the percentage of positive results appears to be declining.

“Throughout March and April, we would have typically 90-92 percent of everyone who would test would come back negative,” DeSantis said. “More recently, it’s been about 85 percent. We’d like to get that back to where 90-plus percent of the people are testing negative.

“I think we’ve stabilized; I think we may be going in that direction.”

The governor also announced that the state is expanding beds for COVID patients in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, along with providing more testing for personnel.

“Almost 200,000 staff on an every-other-week basis,” said the governor. “So every two weeks, they’re getting swabbed, we’re sending it in, and we’re getting the results back. We’ve got results back for over 100,000 of the staff, and fortunately the percent positive has been under three percent.”

Closer to home, Escambia Countians now have a “one-stop shop” for coronavirus data generated within the county. Public Safety Director Eric Gilmore rolled out the new interactive dashboard last week, which gives real-time numbers 24/7.

“You can tab through each one, so as you can see the Escambia residents’ total cases – and then the non-residents broke out as well,” said Eric Gilmore, the county’s public safety director. "We have our cumulative residential data, and you can scroll over and see that charted as far as non-residential, as well as the monthly.”

On the cases per day tab -- as of Friday -- the count ran from June 26 to July 6 – averaging just over 100 cases per day during that period – along with a treasure trove of information.

“And as we scroll through we can see the median age; you can get your demographics information by scrolling through this section,” Gilmore said. “Cases by age, cases by gender, by race, case by ethnicity. So there’s a lot more information in that category that you can glean from that.”

One of the questions that have popped up is -- where is the county getting its numbers on total COVID hospitalizations at area hospitals. Gilmore said they’re from the hospitals themselves – Ascension Sacred Heart, West Florida, and Baptist.

“Now, understanding, in the next 30 minutes, somebody could be discharged from a hospital or somebody could be [admitted]. So that number can fluctuate throughout the day.”

Also listed on the dashboard is the number of tests for COVID-19 per week. In the past week or so, Gilmore says the 6 testing sites in the county have conducted about 6,500 tests.

“Sacred Heart, Community Health, Departments of Health, Baptist – they’ve been increasing their testing capacity,” said Gilmore. “UWF was only doing 250 a day, and now they’ve gone to over 750 a day; so they’re really banging it out. And not only that, last week we had a new state-sponsored testing site pop up in front of Publix on 9th Avenue. So we have 7 testing locations that you can go get tested at.”

The COVID-19 dashboard can be found at 

Copyright 2020 WUWF

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.