ORLANDO, Fla. - Governor Ron DeSantis held a roundtable discussion on the coronavirus Tuesday in Orlando. It was the same day the state reported 186 new deaths from the virus, the highest one-day count for fatalities since the start of the pandemic.
It's important to note, some of those deaths may have occurred days or weeks ago and are just now being reported. About 45% of the more than 6,000 COVID-19 deaths among Florida residents have been linked to long-term care facilities.
Governor DeSantis reacted to the coronavirus deaths, saying, "these are tough things to see."
"To obviously have families lose somebody is a big deal and every one of them matters," DeSantis said.
While the governor pointed out that the mortality rate is a lagging indicator of where things are headed, a leading indicator is hospitals' patient census. AdventHealth reports its COVID-19 patient count, at hospitals statewide, peaked July 19 at 946. It's now at 815.
"As you have fewer E.D. visits and you have fewer COVID-positive patients in the hospital, we think, and I'm pretty sure with the good work they are doing, you'll see mortality decrease as well," DeSantis said.
"We are able to safely discharge patients even those that a few months ago we probably wouldn't have done that," said Dr. Omayra Mansfield, AdventHealth CMO.
DeSantis also announced that the supply of remdesivir, a drug shown to shorten recovery time in COVID-19 patients, is being replenished where it's been lacking.
"We actually have another 500 cases, which is 20,000 vials of remdesivir, will be arriving at hospitals all across the state of Florida."
Hospitals across the state say there is a growing need and the shortage is forcing some to make the difficult decision about which patients get the drug and which don't.
"With this new shipment, we've been able to secure more than 3,000 cases, which is 100,000 vials for Florida hospitals," DeSantis. "We are going to continue to be there for the folks in our hospital system and for these patients because it really makes a difference."
DeSantis also said the state now has 22 COVID-19 -only nursing homes, totaling almost 1,500 beds, including a major facility in Polk County.
"These COVID-only nursing facilities are places that a hospital can safely discharge a COVID positive resident of a long term care facility to," Desantis said.
It's part of a larger effort to keep the virus out of facilities housing some of the most vulnerable.
"We have done now for the last almost month, bi-weekly testing of every staff member that works in a long term care facility," DeSantis said.
Lessons learned since March are leading to more precise treatment.
"The patients that get hospitalized, 95% of them will survive, 5% of them will expire," said Dr. Eduardo Oliveira with AdventHealth Orlando. "It's never a positive to have anyone succumb to this illness. I think that we've seen improved outcomes over time."