To put Florida’s recent COVID-19 spike in Seinfeldian terms — it’s real, and they’re hoping to keep it from being spectacular. When diagnosed cases began rising sharply this month, state officials cited the context of greatly increased testing as the reason rather than a second-wave outbreak. This morning, however, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) told CNBC’s Squawk Box that the rate of confirmed diagnoses has outstripped the rate of testing increase, which means … “we have work to do,” Scott said:
“Some might be tied to testing but it’s clearly not all tied to testing,” the Senator said on CNBC’s Squawk Box Monday morning.
“We clearly haven’t beat it. I think everybody is concerned when they read about the number of cases being up. The deaths aren’t growing like that, so that’s a positive.” Scott said.
When asked if there was a possibility for deaths to catch up to the surge in cases, the Senator demurred.
“You sure hope not,” Scott said, adding that “so far” the health care system has handled the surge.
“We clearly haven’t beat it. We’ve got to keep focusing … we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Scott said, noting the potential of the disease surging in places that may have thought they’d beaten the coronavirus.
Governor Ron DeSantis also backed down from the “context” argument this weekend, noting that the spread has now accelerated in younger Floridians. DeSantis urged Floridians to take social-distancing guidelines more seriously, but still professed reluctance to dictate those protocols:
Pointing to a “significant” increase in the number of coronavirus cases among younger people, Governor Ron DeSantis reiterated the need for Floridians to practice social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.
During a news conference on Saturday, DeSantis attributed the sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the state to residents in their 20s and 30s – who may not be as vulnerable for serious illness but still run the risk of spreading the virus to older residents. …
But with the spike of positive cases reported this past week – Florida set a record on Saturday with 4,049 new cases in 24 hours, bringing the total to 93,797 – DeSantis said he now sees “a really significant increase in positive tests for people in their 20s and 30s.”
DeSantis specifically pointed to “incredibly low” median ages in Tampa Bay and Central Florida. He said the median age of the 337 Hillsborough County residents who tested positive on Friday was 30, and in Pinellas, the median age was 29 out of the 285 positive cases.
Needless to say, this isn’t good news for Florida, DeSantis, or the idea that the COVID-19 virus has mutated out of rapid transmissibility. The rate of deaths has not increased, as CNBC notes, and the hospitals have not yet been overwhelmed, so it appears that the spike has been managed well. However, as transmissible as this virus is, this kind of spike might presage a much larger run on health-care resources in the near future. And at the very least, Scott and DeSantis are now admitting that this is not just an artifact of ramped-up testing capability.
South Korea has more bad news on outbreaks. Despite implementing effective testing regimes on a much tighter timeline and having imposed significant social-distancing measures, officials there are seeing signs of a “second wave” around Seoul. That wave began with holiday celebrations, too:
On Monday, the director of Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Jeong Eun-kyeong said a holiday in early May marked the beginning of a “second wave” of cases in the greater Seoul area, Reuters reported.
“In the metropolitan area, we believe that the first wave was from March to April as well as February to March,” Jeong said at a news briefing, according to Reuters. “Then we see that the second wave which was triggered by the May holiday has been going on.”
Once again, this puts the spotlight on the RNC’s plans for a full convention in Jacksonville. That idea looked good when Florida’s case record showed remarkably good control a couple of weeks ago, suggesting that the state’s lighter touch was sufficient to keep COVID-19’s amplitude down. Now that cases are beginning to accelerate again, the idea of holding a massive political event in the state seems riskier than it previously did. How many people will want to travel into a hot spot — and how many people will be happy to welcome them home when they return?