Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke out Friday after the U.S. government's leading infectious disease expert suggested the state may have reopened too quickly amid the coronavirus epidemic.
On Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discussed Florida's recent rise in COVID-19 cases.
“Despite the guidelines and the recommendations to open up carefully and prudently, some states skipped over those and just opened up too quickly,” Fauci said on FiveThirtyEight’s weekly “PODCAST-19.”
“Certainly Florida I know, you know, I think jumped over a couple of checkpoints,” he said.
At a news conference in Orlando Friday, DeSantis said he had been in contact with Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus task force coordinator, about the state's reopening.
"In terms of our reopening, I sent mine to the task force, I spoke specifically with Dr. Birx and if you look at, we did phase one at the beginning of May, our best test results were May and the first two weeks of June, we were 5% or under that whole time," DeSantis said. "This is a virus that has a five-day intubation period so it wouldn't take six weeks before you started seeing something if that were the cause."
Florida on Friday reported 93 more deaths from COVID-19, while the state's total caseload grew by another 11,433 people infected. South Florida, particularly Miami-Dade, has seen a large increase in cases in recent weeks.
DeSantis said at the time of reopening, there were different guidelines in place for South Florida.
"We had very very low prevalence, particularly in the 64 counties outside of southern Florida, and we did put southern Florida on a different pathway, so I think there was really no justification to not move forward," he said.
DeSantis added that Florida's recent rise in cases was similar to ones being experienced in other Sunbelt states.
"We've now seen more cases in transmission at the exact same time that the rest of the Sunbelt is. Los Angeles didn't exactly open very soon there, they're seeing it, Texas, Georgia, Arizona, South Carolina. So this is something that we're dealing with, we're in a better position to deal with it," DeSantis said.