News and Commentary

DeSantis: Since Florida Entered Phase 1, ICU Hospitalizations From Virus Down 21%
Ron DeSantis attends an event at the Freedom Tower where he named Barbara Lagoa to the Florida Supreme Court on January 09, 2019 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Friday afternoon, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had some news for the reams of critics of his handling of the coronavirus in his state. DeSantis tweeted, “Since Florida entered Phase 1 on May 4, ICU hospitalizations for COVID patients are down 21% and ventilator use by COVID patients is down 32%.”

On April 21, DeSantis, who had been heavily criticized for not ordering a shutdown of his state, slammed the wild predictions of mass hospitalizations that had been promulgated about his state, asserting, “Those predictions have been false. Our work is succeeding; we have flattened the curve.”

DeSantis stated:

We heard report after report saying it was just a matter of time until Florida’s hospital system was just completely overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. In fact, there was an article in March in the Miami Herald that said this week in April Florida could see 465,000 people hospitalized throughout the state of Florida. The reality: slightly more than 2,000. Those predictions have been false. Our work is succeeding; we have flattened the curve.

In fact, not only did the hospital system not get overwhelmed; since the pandemic started available hospital beds have increased in the state of Florida, not decreased. We started with about 15,400 beds available, we now have 22,000 beds available. We’ve also dramatically increased ICU bed availability, and that’s what flattening the curve was all about because if the health care system gets overwhelmed, it’s obviously bad for COVID-19 patients. It’s also bad for other people that have other ailments. And so those predictions were made time and time and time again and they were wrong.

As far back as late March, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper sniped, “Against the urging of state and local leaders and national health professionals, Gov. Ron DeSantis has refused to order a statewide shutdown of all nonessential businesses and mandate that all residents stay at home to help prevent a wider spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.” The Democrat continued, “A Stanford University-based group, COVID ACT NOW, has a model that projects the consequences of not practicing social distancing. With limited action, Florida’s hospitals would reach an overload of over 465,000 patients by April 24, the model shows. With three months of social distancing, Florida would still see 185,000 hospitalizations by May 14. With mandatory sheltering in place, the need is reduced to 18,000 hospitalizations by July.”

On March 26, the Miami Herald referenced the Stanford University projections, writing, “Three academic models created with input by epidemiologists and health experts from StanfordHarvard and Northeastern universities predict anywhere from 450,000 to 700,000 people in Florida are likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19.”

On April 22, DeSantis stated, “I think it’s been a team effort here in Florida. We’ve got great public health people here at the county level, we’ve worked very good with the local governments as well, and we still have more work to do. But clearly, we have done way better than all the experts said we would and I think we did it by a data-driven approach.”

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