As states try to return “back to normal” after months of self-isolation due to the coronavirus, all eyes are on the states that reopened earliest. Will there be more outbreaks of COVID-19? Will the number of confirmed cases countrywide, which just surpassed 2 million, keep rising? Although some regions have seen a reduction in key stats like hospitalizations, one state just broke a record of a different kind. On Thursday, Florida logged the highest reported number of COVID-19 cases in a single day since the pandemic began, with 1,698 additional cases of the coronavirus. The state’s overall total is now 69,069 confirmed cases.
This beats the previous highest daily count of newly confirmed cases. That was back on June 4th, when 1,419 cases were announced. Additionally, on Thursday there were 47 new deaths announced, raising the statewide toll to 2,848.
30,000+ Tests a Day
The state started to lift restrictions on May 4th, resulting in people headed to the beaches and sitting in cafes along South Beach. On June 5th, theme parks, bars and other hangout spots reopened. “Some health experts fear the reopenings and, later, the protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, might lead to a surge in infections,” reports the NY Post. “Other states, including Texas and Arizona, have also been struck with a second wave of cases weeks after reopening.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, on the other hand, attributes the rise in cases to increased testing. “As you’re testing more, you are going to find more cases and most of the cases are sub-clinical cases, and we expected that from the beginning,” he said in a press conference Thursday. “We are doing 30,000+ tests a day, in terms of results on average…We also do have outbreaks in agriculture communities.”
In fact, among farmworkers in Collier, Martin and Palm Beach counties, more than 50% are testing positive. Because they are young, “the good news is they’re low-risk workers in terms of their health, so the clinical consequences is very small,” DeSantis said.
Why the Testing Expanded
The governor went on to explain why the testing increased: “We’re doing 30,000-plus tests a day in terms of results on average,” he said according to ABC 10. “As people have been getting back to work, I think employers have told folks you should get tested, so we’re starting to see at our test sites a much younger demographic. So you do see 98% test negative but you do see some cases … usually no clinical consequence.”
University of Florida epidemiology professor Cindy Prins told WLRN that there is still unclarity about who is being tested. “Are we talking about people who are being tested because they have symptoms?” she asked. “Are we talking about people who are being tested because now all of a sudden they have access, and they can go through the drive-thru testing, and find out whether or not they’re positive, even though they don’t have symptoms.”
We’ll keep watching the state to see if the key metrics—namely hospitalizations and deaths—rise as a result of reopening. As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.