The next chapter in Florida’s place in the coronavirus pandemic may be opening our economy back up, but there’s still background needed before that chapter can be written.
That summarizes what Gov. Ron DeSantis presented Sunday during a press conference at Orlando Health in Orlando Sunday.
There’s some discrepancy when the state’s safer-at-home mandate ends — some say April 30, but on April 3 DeSantis said it would hold for 30 days, putting it at May 4 — but that does not mean the doors will swing open on all businesses and move on.
“Even if you could flip the switch, if people don’t have confidence the economy is not going to just take off. That’s not the way it works,” he said.
Much of what he and Orlando Health officials discussed were positive notes about positive case percentage and numbers of cases being treated in some Orange County hospitals; that cases in ICU beds and on ventilators has dropped significantly since the first week of April. According to the Department of Health, there’s been 1.2 fatalities per 100,000 residents in long-term care facilities.
DeSantis said that April 3rd’s report of 1,317 cases, one of the state’s busiest days — came on about 10,000 tests, around 13 percent positive cases. On Saturday, the report of 823 cases were out of 19,342 tests, or 4.25 percent positives.
“Expanded testing continues to be very important. At some of the locations, capacity exceeds the demand,” he said. “But Florida has performed better than projections and better than many of the other states.”
By May 1, the state will have antibody and serology tests, which looks for the presence of antibodies. DeSantis said a delivery of FDA-approved tests that were stuck in China explains a delay.
Orlando Health doctors said new cases, COVID-19 patients and taken beds are all on the downswing from the peak the first few days of April. What is increasing? That’d be convalescent plasma treatment, in which those who’ve already tested positive donating plasma with virus antibodies and injecting it into those fighting the infection to boost their immune system.
But the hospital’s view on moving forward is the same as DeSantis’: that data — much of which we still don’t have yet — will drive decisions on re-opening the state.
“It’s more about getting it right than pegging a date,” DeSantis said. “There’s a safe way back to get to the next chapter.”