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DeSantis On Opening Phase 3: ‘You Can’t Just Say No After Six Months And Just Have People Twisting In The Wind’
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot on March 30, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis released the latest statistics from his state showing the plunge in hospitalizations from COVID-19 since they peaked in July. DeSantis issued two tweets, stating:

COVID+ hospitalizations have declined by 77% since the July peak. 2) COVID+ ICU hospitalizations have declined 72% since the July peak. 3) ED visits for COVID-like illness has declined by nearly 80% since the July peak. Daily hospital admissions for COVID have declined by 81% since the July peak. 5) The percentage of positive diagnostic test results for new cases was reported at 4.32%. 6) 24% of hospital beds are empty; so are 23% of ICU beds.

DeSantis held a press conference on Friday at which he stated, “It’s pretty clear that we use our resources best when we focus them on the people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. I think it’s readily apparent that that’s the elderly population.”

“CDC recently revised and put out a new best estimate for the fatality rate for infections,” he continued. “An estimation; not cases, because there are way more infections than documented cases.”

DeSantis held up a slate on which it was noted that according to the CDC, the survival rate per age group was 99.997% for people aged 0-19; 99.98% for those aged 20-49; 99.5% for those aged 50-69, and 94.6% for those aged 70 and above. He pointed out, “Under 50, that is less than the seasonal influenza,” before noting that for people over 70, the survival rate was much more problematic, and thus that’s where the state would be focused.

DeSantis also announced that the state would move to phase 3, in which no limitations would be placed on restaurants in Florida. He added that the order he was signing would allow restaurants to open without regard for local ordinances and if a local rule restricted restaurants to limiting their customers to 50-100 at a time, the local government would have to provide justification to the state and identify what the costs of that would be. He stated of the restaurant industry, “This is a very difficult industry to succeed in; the margins aren’t great.”

He continued, “You go back to March, we were told, ‘15 days to slow the spread.’ In Florida, we followed that. It was: no dining in restaurants, the bars, the gyms, no elective procedures. … And then they said, ‘We need another 30 days.’ So 30 days to slow the spread. So we did that as well. And yet, you have some people who say ‘You can never do full, what you want to do until there’s a vaccine.’ Well, we don’t know. Hopefully … Now people are saying, ‘Hey, even if there’s a vaccine, its’ still gonna take another year before you can operate appropriately.’”

He asserted, “I don’t think that’s viable; I don’t think that’s acceptable.”

DeSantis said of the restaurant industry, “In fact, they have worked as hard as anybody to create safe environments. The idea that government dictating this is better than them making these decisions so that their customers have confidence I think is misplaced, and I’ve gone to many restaurants over these many months and they take this obligation seriously. They want customers to have confidence.”

“We’re also saying in the state of Florida: everybody has an opportunity and the right to work,” DeSantis said. “Every business has the right to operate. Some of the locals, they can do reasonable regulations, but you can’t just say, ‘No.’ You can’t just say ‘No’ after six months and just have people twisting in the wind.”

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