Gov. Ron DeSantis in his afternoon coronavirus briefing emphasized the need for more COVID-19 testing kits and swabs, especially at drive-through sites.
“If we have enough swabs and we set up the drive-through sites, you can swab people,” said DeSantis. “So a huge supply of swabs will let us ramp up the number of people that can be tested very, very quickly.”
He added the state has ordered half-a-million swab test kits, saying, “We put in an order, probably a week and a half ago, for half-a-million swabs. Have not gotten that fulfilled yet.”
Other supplies and items the state is working to obtain include two-million face masks, 150,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and 150,000 protection kits that include coveralls, gowns and goggles. The state also wants 5,000 hospital beds and 5,000 ventilators. The supplies would be distributed across the state as needed, and will be delivered on a rolling basis.
In terms of closing bars and nightclubs statewide for 30 days, DeSantis explained, “We want to avoid large crowds throughout the state right now. I don’t want to shut every aspect of life down. I think that wouldn’t be effective. But at the end of the day, you have people crowding into these places and that is creating the type of activity that we are being warned against.”
The governor also said it is not necessary at this time to close child care centers over coronavirus fears.
“I think the parents have such, they’re under tremendous amount of pressure with the schools, and I don’t think it’s as simple as saying, you close them and everything is going to work out great. I think that will cause huge issues throughout the state.”
Although K-12 public and private schools throughout Florida will remain closed through April 15, child care centers are considered private institutions that take direction from the Florida Department of Health.
South Florida is currently the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
According to the Florida Department of Health, Broward County leads the state with 80 confirmed cases, followed by Miami-Dade County with 77 and Palm Beach County with 21 (one of those Palm Beach cases is a non-resident, and another one is a resident who is currently out-of-state.
— Florida Dept. Health (@HealthyFla) March 18, 2020
Indeed, among the newest cases is a 6-year-old from Palm Beach County who tested positive in New York, officials announced Wednesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 66 coronavirus tests had been administered in Palm Beach County. Of those, 28 came back negative, 19 results are pending and 19 people have tested positive.
Hundreds of residents have been tested in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Broward tested 553 people, with 250 negative results, 223 pending and 80 positive. Miami-Dade has administered 380 tests, with 156 negative, 148 pending and 76 positive.
The state has 328 reported cases as of Wednesday evening, and eight deaths, with the latest being a Clay County man in his 70s.
As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, out of the 328 cases statewide, 299 are Florida residents and 29 are not. The FDOH is reporting that 2,800 people statewide are under surveillance and another 967 are being monitored.