As COVID-19 Deaths Surge, Governor's Message: Stay the Course

Sixty-four more Floridians died from coronavirus, the state announced Tuesday -- the largest one-day increase in three weeks.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis learned 64 more Floridians were reported dead Tuesday from COVID-19 -- more than on any date since June 2, and the third-highest total since May 8.

His response: "So the message is: Just stick with the basic program that we’ve advised really from the beginning, but certainly since the beginning of May when we went into Phase One."

On Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said, "My advice to the Floridians is the advice I would give to anyone and everyone ... Plan A: don’t go into a crowd. Plan B: if you do, make sure you wear a mask."

Of particular concern to DeSantis was the rising share of tests coming back positive, though he noted they were skewing toward the young and, therefore, are not as likely to cause severe illness or death.

Over the last seven days, the statewide positivity rate is 12.1%; 10 days ago, that same metric over seven days was about half that level, 6.2%

"That would tell you there’s probably been an escalation in transmission over the last seven to 10 days," DeSantis said at a news conference in Orlando. "So that’s probably the number one thing we’re looking at right now."

The governor also addressed concerns that the state last week changed reporting requirements for hospitals to inflate the apparent ICU bed capacity.

"What the issue was was some of the hospitals had told us that they were just using their ICU wing as their COVID wing," he said. "So that would be reported as if there were 10 beds, you had eight patients, eight ICU patients when in fact you didn't have eight patients that had ICU- level acuity."

In Miami-Dade County, 818 COVID-positive patients are now admitted to hospitals -- a new record.

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