TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's upward climb in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases continues to reach new heights, with 4,049 cases reported in a single day Saturday.
It is, so far, the biggest spike in confirmed coronavirus cases and has infectious disease experts predicting Florida could be the new epicenter for the pandemic.
DeSantis during a news conference Saturday laid blame on the state's younger population, something he began highlighting in recent days. But there has been a shift in messaging: On Tuesday, he largely attributed the rise in COVID-19 cases to aggressive testing within high-risk populations, such as nursing homes, prisons and agricultural communities.
He, too, at the time noted the median age of people testing positive fell into the mid to upper 30s, down from the senior-aged population toward the start of the pandemic.
The governor this weekend continued to lean into the data showing increased COVID-19 positivity among the younger population, which he called "concerning." He also cited more aggressive testing, even for people who do not present symptoms. DeSantis said earlier in the pandemic, people who showed they were sick were allowed to get tested whereas now, almost anyone can get a test.
Although officials are finding more younger people are testing positive, DeSantis said it doesn't yet crunch the hospital system as it had with older people and the state's hospital system is able to handle an increased caseload.
"The state is really in a good spot to handle these eventualities," DeSantis said.
While announcing no new changes to the state's Phase Two reopening plan, the governor further encouraged people to follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: socially distance from other people, and if that is not possible, wear a face covering.
"We really want to send a message on doubling down on what we've been preaching ... in terms of the social distancing," DeSantis said.
Images of packed bars and restaurants have flown in the face of public health experts' guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.
"That is not what we're looking to do," said DeSantis, saying some businesses need to take a more measured approach in their reopening.
Florida Health's daily report shows the overall number of tests conducted has remained stable during the past few days. Since the start of the month, the overall trend in testing has remained steady or decreased slightly.
The percent positivity for new cases reached a new high Friday at 12.36 percent.
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