TAMPA, Fla. - The Florida Department of Health website dedicated to tracking cases of the novel coronavirus shows more than 205,000 have been tested for COVID-19, which means about one in every 100 Floridians knows their status, as of April 14, 2020.
Because testing shows health officials where the virus is most active, Governor Ron DeSantis says it will be crucial when the state's 'stay at home' order is lifted.
"I have folks working on a committee to see what we can do to make the testing even more prevalent," said DeSantis said Tuesday at a press conference where he announced the formation of a task force to explore ways for small businesses to have access to rapid testing. "There has to be an easy way for somebody, if you have a small business and someone has symptoms, to be able to go get a test and get an answer in a reasonable amount of time."
It's unclear what metric the state would use to "reopen" the economy, especially with between 500 and a thousand new cases still being reported each day, over the last three weeks.
"The testing has to continue on, even when you see a decline and you think you are getting control, you continue to test as you put people back to work and you re-enter the community," said FOX 13 Medical Doctor Joette Giovinco.
The governor also said the task force would consider when to reopen -- possibly on a rolling basis -- public schools, universities, restaurants, and gyms.
DeSantis says he is worried relaxing social distancing measures will cause case numbers to rise again.
"Is there going to be this wave and then a second wave comes back in the fall? There are a lot of things you need to be prepared for," he said.
The governor added, hundreds of thousands of sets of protective gear for nurses have been ordered for medical facilities in South Florida, which is now bearing the brunt of the pandemic in the sunshine state.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to email@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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