TAMPA, Fla. - As Florida's new cases of Coronavirus continue to surge, the governor gave no indication during a stop in Tampa that he is reconsidering Florida's reopening plan. But he also made it clear the state is not ready to move to the next phase.
"We are where we are," the governor said at Cristo Rey High School in East Tampa after signing an expansion of school vouchers. "I did not say we are going to go on to the next phase. We have done a step by step approach."
In the five weeks since the governor allowed restaurants and stores to go to 50%capacity, Florida has gone from under 500 new cases a day like on May 26, to over 5,000 coronavirus cases on Thursday.
Several businesses in Tampa and St. Pete have had to close as staff members have reported cases.
"We did the opening at the beginning of May, had very steady, manageable cases. Obviously we’ve seen that turn lately," DeSantis said at a bill signing for private-school voucher legislation.
However, as the rate of positive tests increases, so do the number of Florida hospitals reporting a concerning increase in COVID-19 patients. About 10% of Floridians tested for COVID-19 are positive.
"We know It is not something that just goes away," the governor said. "It is something you have to understand, you have to live with. I am confident people if you follow guidelines from the state and local officials, you can do things in a low-risk way."
The governor claimed that most who get the virus now, who he says are in their 20s and 30s, are not showing major symptoms.
Data show, of the 39,000 cases among people age 25 to 44, under 100 have died. The median age for those with new cases in Pinellas County is hovering in the low 30s.
"It is a natural human thing, you hare having more contact, you are doing things, so we have seen most of the case growth in the under-40 category," DeSantis said.
Florida is currently in Phase 2 of the three-phase plan to reopen. Bars and restaurants are open but required to limit capacity and maintain social distancing. Phase 3 represents a return to near-normal conditions.
The governor says the state is helping to open a new testing site at Tropicana Field to address the increased need, but an opening date was not specified. The state said it is also going to step up testing at Raymond James Stadium.
"That is a good thing because every asymptomatic case you identify, if they follow the precautions and isolate, then that can really lower the spread," he said.
The governor also said Thursday that he agreed with CDC reporting that the virus might be 10 times more prevalent than current testing shows. But he says that’s not enough to close any businesses or repeal any of the other Phase 2 reopening measures.