JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to stay home and not panic as the state tests more people for the novel coronavirus, finding that more than 1,000 people across the state have been infected.
DeSantis stressed that the results should not cause undue concern.
“The vast, vast majority of people are testing negative for this,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis held a news conference Sunday at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, where the Florida National Guard opened a drive-thru testing site -- one of three federally supported testing sites in the state. On Sunday, they were only testing first responders. On Monday, they planned to expand it to people at least 65 years old who are showing symptoms of the illness.
The Florida National Guard said more than 1,000 soldiers are on state active duty to support the state’s response to the coronavirus, in large part helping with community-based testing sites. Guardsmen are also helping at the screening site in Broward County.
Col. Bob Carruthers, Joint Task Force Command with the Florida National Guard, said additional testing available statewide will help them identify what measures need to be taken.
“It will help us better manage the problem, understand the depth of the problem at various locations so the proper resources by all our health officials and health care providers can be applied at the right place," Carruthers said.
In Northeast Florida, Carruthers said, they are on standby to help with the federally supported testing site in Lot J at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville if needed.
According to state figures, more than 11,000 people have been tested for the virus. That’s more than most states but less than New York.
The virus causes only minor flu-like symptoms in most people, who recover in a matter of weeks. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness or death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health problems. Severe cases are often only able to breathe with respirators.
DeSantis has called for a ban on elective surgery, in part so hospital staff have enough personal protective equipment available for coronavirus patients.
He did not call for a “shelter in place” order, unlike governors in California, New York and Illinois, who have ordered such restrictive measures.