Gov. DeSantis: Younger COVID-19 patients appear to be mostly asymptomatic

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday held a news conference regarding COVID-19.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday held a news conference regarding COVID-19. (WFSU)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday again reiterated that the age of people testing positive for COVID-19 is skewing younger.

He also said the younger population appears to be largely asymptomatic.

“The vast majority of cases that we’re seeing right now in the state of Florida are with people who are presenting without any symptoms. These are folks, I think, many of them are probably being tested because of returning to the workforce,” DeSantis said at a news conference Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee. “So we’re seeing a major shift in this direction with this large 20- to 30-year-old population, mostly asymptomatic, but we’re also seeing that not only are they testing positive because they’re testing more, they’re also testing positive at a higher rate increasingly over the last week, and that’s something that you want to look at.”

DeSantis said even with more testing, the number of people testing positive is accelerating faster than those test results.

“And so that’s evidence that there’s transmission within those communities, particularly the 20s and 30s, so again, not huge clinical consequences, but in terms of spread and in terms of some of the vulnerable population eventually seeping in there, it’s certainly a cause for concern,” he said.

He said the median age of new cases for Friday in Duval County was 29. That’s down from 30, the median age reported the day before by the governor.

“Under 29 was half of the cases in Duval County in today’s report,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis held the news conference after the Florida Department of Health reported Saturday morning that confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide stood at 93,797, up 4,049 cases since Friday morning’s report. That’s a record single-day increase.

Duval County recorded 211 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours -- a record for the fifth day in a row. That brings the total number of cases reported in the county to 2,695.

During the news conference, DeSantis tried to shift focus away from the sheer number of new cases that has begun to raise alarm.

“I think it’s also important to provide context and perspective in terms of what that actually means,” the governor said.

He acknowledged that complacency might be a factor as Floridians fail to heed social distancing measures as they begin resuming their daily lives.

“We’re now three months into this. There’s a lot of fatigue in terms of the social distancing,” he said.

DeSantis said the Department of Business and Professional Regulation will be enforcing the reopening guidelines for Florida businesses. He also said there will be a public health advisory reiterating guidance for:

  • Elderly and vulnerable individuals
  • Practicing social distancing
  • Wearing a mask in public settings
  • Staying home when sick
  • Frequent hand washing and sanitization

As far as Florida’s hospital system, DeSantis said there are twice as many beds available than before the coronavirus pandemic as a percentage and fewer COVID-19 in the intensive care unit and on ventilators than in April. Saturday’s Department of Health report shows a total of 12,939 patients statewide had been hospitalized with the coronavirus, but the state does not release data specifically on how many patients are currently hospitalized with the virus.

The governor also stated there has been a downward trend in the death rate.

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