On a day when Florida's COVID-19 death toll increased by 83 -- a one-day record -- Gov. Ron DeSantis went to the White House armed with charts showing the progress the state has made and a plan to soon ease some restrictions.
They didn't exactly do a victory lap around the Oval Office, but DeSantis and President Trump clearly reveled in data showing Florida is doing much better than some had feared just a few weeks ago.
"What have the results been? You look at some of the most draconian orders that have been issued in some of these states and compare Florida in terms of our hospitalizations per 100,000, in terms of our fatalities per 100,000. I mean, you go from DC, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois -- you name it -- Florida has done better."
And the numbers bear that out. Florida's death rate of five per 100,000 is ranked 22nd in the nation, below all those states and the District of Columbia.
In addition, Florida's number of new cases per day and the percent of tests coming back positive are both on downward trajectories over the last 14 days -- meeting two of the criteria the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out before saying a state could move to Phase 1 of the White House's plan for "Opening Up America Again."
"I've worked with the White House on kind of going to Phase 1," DeSantis said, adding he would make an announcement Wednesday. "I think for Florida going from where we are now to Phase 1 is not a very big leap."
Under the Phase 1 guidelines -- which DeSantis could follow or modify -- vulnerable people remain sheltered, physical distancing continues and bars remain closed.
But gyms could open and social setting of under 10 people would be allowed, with some limits.
Some employee could return to work in phases and large venues, such as theaters and sit-down restaurants, could operate under strict social distancing protocols.
"We're going to approach it in a very measured, thoughtful and data-driven way," DeSantis said.
One change not in the plan, but which was discussed by the governor and president: testing travelers for COVID before they board flights to Florida from international hot spots -- especially in South America.
"I’ve been worried about that the whole time," DeSantis said. "I think that Brazil and some of those places which had a lot of interaction with Miami, you're going to see the epidemic increase there as their season changes. And so we could potentially have, we could be way on the other side doing well in Florida and you could just have people kind of come in."
"If you're going to fly to Miami, then the airline should give you the (quick-result) test and then put you on the plane," DeSantis said.
"Would you ever want to ban certain countries?" Trump asked.
"If they were seeding the United States, I think you should ban 'em," DeSantis responded. "For sure."
"You let us know," Trump said.
To those who criticized him for not taking statewide action sooner to limit the spread of the disease, DeSantis was ready with a rebuttal:
"We understood we have a big, diverse state. We understood the outbreak was not uniform throughout the state and we he had a tailored and measured approach that not only helped our numbers be way below what anyone predicted, but also did less damage to our state going forward."
The governor spoke there in the past tense about a pandemic that experts say is not going away any time soon and will send those numbers of deaths and infections higher if too much is done too soon to get Florida on a path back toward normal -- whatever that might be.