Florida must increase COVID-19 mitigation efforts as hospitalizations rise: WH task force memo

Hospitalizations concern the experts battling COVID-19 in South Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida must increase its coronavirus mitigation efforts as “hospitalizations rise and long-term care facilities are again under full threat,” according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s weekly memo that was sent to governors last week.

The Florida portion of the Nov. 22 report, which was obtained by Naseem Miller of the Orlando Sentinel, states that “Florida is now in the red zone for cases, indicating 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population, with the 37th highest rate in the country.” It goes on to say: “Florida is in the orange zone for test positivity, indicating a rate between 8.0% and 10%, with the 37th highest rate in the country.”

The Florida part of the report also makes several recommendations, including: “Ensure masks at all times in public, increase physical distancing through significant reduction in capacity in public and private indoor spaces, and ensure every American understands the clear risks of ANY family or friend interactions outside of their immediate household indoors without masks.”

Under the recommendations, the report also notes that there are early signs of reduced personal protective equipment in specific hospitals’ reporting.

Although there is a Nov. 29 report, the Florida section of that has not been posted publicly.

On Monday, when a reporter asked the governor directly why this isn’t information made readily available to Floridians, DeSantis said: “Quite frankly, I think that if you look at some of the recommendations, they did not want schools open. They were not supportive of schools. You go back six months, some of those task force folks we’re saying, ‘Uh, we don’t know.’ We did know. We knew six months ago, based on the observed experience and the data and evidence out of Europe, that schools were safe, and, yet, you had these things. They say, ‘Well, you look at New York, your positivity is above some arbitrary thing, you have to close the school.’ Really? You’re going to shut kids out of an education for a metric that is literally pulled out of somebody’s hat? There’s no basis for any of that.”

The News4Jax I-TEAM is looking into critical health information from the White House Coronavirus Task Force to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office.

The News4Jax I-TEAM talked with DeSantis’ spokesperson Fred Piccolo by phone Thursday afternoon and asked him why the governor’s office didn’t share this report with the public, even after that question was asked during Monday’s news conference in Kissimmee. Piccolo said he would call back or email.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.