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UPDATED: Gov. DeSantis, Doctors Hold News Conference on Virus

Gov. Ron DeSantis and medical officials held a press conference regarding COVID-19 at Orlando Health on Sunday afternoon.

The governor reiterated that testing has been increasing statewide in recent days.

“We’re close to 340,000 individuals that have been tested and in southern Florida where we have the bulk of the cases, the ratio of tests per citizen is one for every 45 people,” he added

DeSantis also stated that the rate of positive coronavirus cases is declining.

“If you look in the state of Florida in terms of the testing, the most new Florida cases that we’ve had was on April 3. There were 1,317 new Florida cases. That day the total number of tests that were received was 11,725. So that’s a positivity rate that isn’t New York level, or Boston, or some of these other places. But that’s between 10 and 15%, right,” he explained.

He continued, If you look at yesterday, we had 823 new Florida cases reported, out of 19,342 cases. So the positivity rate for the new Florida cases compared to the tests that had been done on people that had not already tested positive was about 4.5%. So that’s a very low positivity rate.”

In terms of antibody test, the governor said the FDA-approved test kits will arrive May 1, and that pharmacists will also be able to test people.

The governor repeated that the state is working on a “safe and methodical” plan for moving toward reopening, which he termed “a next chapter.” However, he did not provide details about how it would look or a timetable. “We’re going to make an announcement pretty soon, obviously,” he said, referring to the approaching end of the month.

When DeSantis issued a Florida stay-at-home order at the beginning of the month, he set the expiration date for April 30, which is Thursday.

“We’re going to do everything in a very smart, methodical, safe way. I’m less concerned about a specific date than I am about getting it right,” he said, emphasizing that reopening needs to balance health and public confidence with a desire to restart the state’s economy.

“As you go forward, are you doing that in a way that’s safe, smart, step-by-step phased approach? It’s not turning on a light switch and all of a sudden we’re back to February 1st. It’s just not the way it’s going to work,” he said. “It’s also about confidence. People need to have confidence that we’re going in a good direction.”

Nearly 72 percent of Florida voters expressed in a Quinnipiac University poll released last week that they do not want the state’s economy to open until public health officials determine it is safe to do so.

The governor acknowledged that, saying, “Even if you could flip the switch, if people don’t have confidence, then the economy’s not going to just take off. That’s just not the way it works.”

According to the Florida Department of Health, there were 31,528 total cases of COVID-19 in Florida as of Sunday morning.

At least 1,074 Florida residents have died from COVID-19.