Governor DeSantis downplays fears over rise in COVID-19 cases as TGH sends warning

The state's ski slope upwards in new daily COVID-19 cases is almost being mirrored in Hillsborough County, where a month ago, it was common to see new daily cases number in the 20s. Friday, there were more than 400.

"Things have drastically and rapidly changed," said Dr. Jason Wilson, the head of Tampa General Hospital's emergency room.

The median age of Hillsborough's new cases is 30 and Dr. Wilson says many are asymptomatic. But he's concerned, even though the hospital still has more than enough ventilators and ICU beds.

"We are seeing more competition for resources in the hospital system. Now we are trying to divert attention for sick patients and pay that attention to people who are seeking testing in the healthcare system," Wilson said.

RELATED: Florida’s COVID-19 cases climb more than 4,000; another record increase

On Saturday, the governor tried to allay fears over the record caseload and the positivity rate, which is now at 14 percent, up from four percent two weeks ago. 

He said young people are driving the increase as they head back to work and into social settings. 

While those 15 to 34 make up 30 percent of all cases, they're only eight percent of the hospitalizations, and one percent of deaths. 

"You do hear reports about people being jam-packed into these places," said Gov. Ron DeSantis. "That is not what we are looking to do. We want to do it in a measured way."

He is leaving the option for mandatory mask orders to local governments, especially because the fatality rate has not jumped and most ICUs have room. 

The governor says the state is going to strictly enforce 50 percent capacities at stores and restaurants.

"It is very reasonable to follow those guidelines," said DeSantis. "I think people understand what they are. It will make a difference in terms of being able to minimize transmission."

Dr. Wilson says the more young people who get sick, the more chance that people who are older and high risk can get sick.
He says this is not out-of-control yet, that it can still be contained with all the measures we have been hearing about: masks and social distancing.