Gov. Ron DeSantis discussed the state’s efforts to fight COVID-19 during a press conference from the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee on Wednesday afternoon.
Specifically, the governor talked about efforts being made in Miami-Dade County, which is one of the hardest hit in the state.
“Over the last week or so (we) have set up four new retail-based testing sites. So these are sites that are a little bit different from drive-through. One of them is at one of the malls, you go in, you can get swabbed really quickly and be able to get a test result. So, we’re going to continue to do that,” he said.
DeSantis continued, “I think Miami-Dade, we calculated it when I was down there yesterday down there with the county Mayor, and I think 16 or 17 percent of the county population has taken a test during the course of the pandemic. So we want to continue to do that.”
He added that labs have been processing 90,000 tests a day in Florida for the past week, and emphasized that people need to be getting their test results quicker than some labs have been providing them.
On a related note, the governor said Florida will discontinue using commercial labs that cannot deliver test results as quickly as others.
“We’ve had some labs that have done well, but many have not and so the Department of Emergency Management is going to ship business away from labs who have failed to produce results in a timely fashion,” he said. ”
Gov. DeSantis continued, “So we think it’s important and so the state, when we’re sending these tests away to the commercial labs, those who can produce are going to get more of the business and I think that’s the best way to go about it.”
Beginning this Friday “sympomatic lanes” will be added to the drive-through testing sites at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami-Dade County and the Broward War Memorial in Broward County.
People showing COVID-19 symptoms will be able to perform a self-swab there and get their results back “we hope within 72 hours instead of 7 days,” DeSantis said.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 15, 2020
Earlier on Wednesday, DeSantis spoke at a Florida Department of Education meeting in Hillsborough County. He told education leaders that he believes it is safe to reopen campuses schools at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.
He explained that health data indicates children are at lower risk of contracting COVID-19 than adults.
“I am really amazed at the extent to which people under 18 are low risk for this,” DeSantis said. “Fortunately, our school children are at less risk”
Citing the fact that many daycare centers across the state have remained opened during the pandemic, the governor went on to say he feels schools could reopen safely next month.
“We’re in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, but we’re also in a situation where we need to provide as many options to parents as possible in terms of the education of the kids,” DeSantis said.
However, Gov. DeSantis added that he believes parents should have the ultimate choice over what type of education their child receives, whether it is in-person, virtual, or a combination of both.
“Any parent has the option to opt of whatever they thing is best for their kids in terms of academics, safety,” DeSantis said.
Earlier this month, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said all public school districts must “open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students.”
“Educating our kids, getting our schools open, getting our economy back on track, and keeping everybody safe is first and foremost on everyone’s mind,” Corcoran said during Wednesday’s meeting.
School district officials in Palm Beach County are voting on whether to begin the school year as virtual-only, after a majority of teachers and parents showed a preference for that model in a recent survey.