Florida Reports Record Spike in COVID-19 Cases After Expansion of Testing, Hospital ICU Beds Run Scarce

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
June 19, 2020US News
Florida Reports Record Spike in COVID-19 Cases After Expansion of Testing, Hospital ICU Beds Run Scarce
A sign with a facemask promoting COVID-19 safety measures is seen in a store in Miami Beach, Fla., on June 16, 2020. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images)

For the second day in a row, Florida reported a record number of new CCP virus cases on June 19, adding almost 4,000 for a total approaching 90,000.

That broke the previous record set just Thursday, when 3,207 were added, according to the state Health Department.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a press conference Tuesday the sharp increase in new cases in recent weeks reflects expanded testing especially among people who are younger and without symptoms. The increase in testing also showed a number of outbreaks in high-risk areas like jails and assisted living facilities, or in Florida’s case, migrant worker communities.

“Some of these guys—they go to work in a school bus, and they are all just like packed there like sardines, going across like Palm Beach County or some of these other places, and (there’s) all these opportunities to have transmission,” DeSantis said.

“We have now in the state of Florida either personally tested with our folks or provided testing for those who can do it themself to every resident and staff at Florida’s long term care facilities,” DeSantis said.

The sharp increase comes weeks after the state eased restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, though DeSantis stated the state won’t slow down or roll back on reopening efforts.

DeSantis pointed out Tuesday the “negative effects” of shutting down the economy again would far exceed the “gains you are getting.”

“We’re not shutting down, we’re gonna go forward, we’re gonna continue to protect the most vulnerable,” the governor said. “To suppress a lot of working-age people at this point, I don’t think it would likely be very effective,” he added.

Ron DeSantis
President Donald Trump listens as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up a sign during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on April 28, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

DeSantis noted that since the beginning of the outbreak, he has recommended people wear masks if they are face-to-face with another person or can’t socially distance. But, he said: “You don’t need to be wearing it if you are going for a jog or you’re on the beach. And so, some of this stuff can get out of hand. I want to be more reasonable about it.”

Numerous hospitals are showing a limited availability in their respective intensive care units with several hospitals having no availability at all, according to the latest report published by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

De Santis said COVID-19 patients in Florida’s hospital beds never exceeded more than 3.5 percent of the total available. He said before the pandemic started, the “hospitals would have about 10 – 12 percent of the beds” available, then in the “middle of the pandemic kinda like the height in April, [we] had 40 percent of the beds available.”

He also noted that the state has “6,400 ventilators that are just sitting idle.”

According to the AHCA report, Palm Beach County shows the most scarce availability in hospital beds, with about 75 percent of the state’s beds currently occupied. Of all the hospitals in the state, 17 hospitals have filled all the available ICU beds. The majority of all the hospitals in the report show more than half of beds in ICU are filled, with Miami-Dade and Palm Beach showing the most severe statistics.

NTD Photo
Beachgoers take advantage of the opening of South Beach in Miami Beach, Fla., on June 10, 2020. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

A spokesperson with the Palm Beach Health Network told FOX Business the number of CCP virus cases the system has is manageable at this time.

The increase in COVID-19 cases also came after the announcement by federal officials which revealed that more than 86,000 Floridians applied for new jobless benefits last week, a drop of almost 30 percent from the previous week as pandemic-related restrictions continued easing up across the state.

As of Thursday, Florida reported nearly 86,000 COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins. This number is slightly higher than the 83,854 confirmed cases reported by the Florida Department of Health Thursday morning, which also reported 2,072 confirmed cases for non-residents and may explain the discrepancy.

The Associated Press and The CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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