ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida's largest regional airport on Wednesday pushed back on claims made by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that more than half of 500 airport workers tested for COVID-19 came back positive.
Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown suggested the governor's comments were misleading. He added that while the Florida Department of Health conducted 500 tests at Orlando International Airport over three days last week, just two tests – or 0.4 percent – came back positive.
"In discussion with Dr. Raul Pino, the Public Health Director for Orange County, it appears that is the extent of the results from those 500 tests," Brown said. "Dr. Pino also advised that he believes the use of masks and facial coverings at [the airport] and the observance of social distancing is a significant contributor to the low positivity rates."
At a news conference on Tuesday, DeSantis said 260 cases had come back positive.
"An airport in Central Florida had a couple of cases, they did the contact tracing, they looked over almost 500 workers, 260 people working close together, positive; 52 percent positivity rate on that one," DeSantis said.
Brown said the 260 cases DeSantis referenced were the total at the airport from mid-March through June and that the 260 figure is made up of 132 employees and 128 people who aren't among the airport's 20,000+ employees, but "have traceable connections to our employees."
"I hope this information clarifies what can be a confusing mix of data for the traveling public," Brown added. "We continue to work with all of our health department officials to ensure all is being done to keep the traveling public and our employees safe at Orlando International Airport."
On Tuesday, DeSantis also said he had no plans of "shutting down" the state again despite new fears after the state's daily reported coronavirus cases spiked to a record level.
DeSantis claimed that many of the cases came from young and healthy people who are unlikely to suffer serious illness or death from COVID-19. He added that the new infections could be traced to hot spots such as farm labor camps or certain businesses and said that, given those circumstances, it made no sense to him to put additional restrictions on the state.