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Palm Coast Monday, May 11, 2020 4 months ago

Florida to ramp up antibody testing as reopening proceeds, DeSantis says

Antibody tests are being sent to some Florida drive-thru testing centers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a May 11 news conference.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The state's rate of positive test results has stayed below 5% each day since the beginning of May, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a news conference broadcast on The Florida Channel from the Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers on May 11.

"I think you see a lot of positive trends," he said. "Today, the state of Florida  is reporting 405 new cases, but we’ve received about 20,000 test results," for a positive rate of about 2.1%. 

ICU hospitalizations in Florida were over 850 in the fist week of April, he said, but had dropped to 467 as of the night of May 10. The state has 263 ventilators in use, he said, and thousands more are available. 

Overwhelmingly, hospitalizations are in South Florida counties that have not yet entered Phase 1 of the reopening process. Miami-Dade County, DeSantis said, has more hospitalizations than Collier County, Lee County, Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Orange County and Duval County combined, "and it’s not even close."

Of the 405 new cases reported May 11, he said, only 187 were in the counties that have already entered Phase 1.

"The percent positive rate for just Phase 1 counties for the reports today, 1.43% of the new tests came back positive," he said. "That means 98.57% are coming back negative in Phase 1 counties, so that's a good sign. We want to continue to monitor that, particularly the hospitalizations and the ventilators and the percent positive; those are really, really important."

Florida is now sending antibody tests to its hospitals and to its drive-in testing centers, DeSantis said, and is obtaining the antiviral drug Remdesivir for hospitals. 

The antibody tests, by determining who has antibodies for COVID-19, can reveal who's already had the disease.

"It's really important to do the antibody testing so we can get a sense of how widespread this has been," DeSantis said. "In Miami, we had about 10% of the people who went through tested positive; in Jacksonville it was about half a percent."

The state is also working to get Remdesivir, an antiviral drug produced by pharmaceutical manufacturer Gilead that is being tested as a possible COVID-19 treatment, to  Florida hospitals that want it, DeSantis said.

The state's drive-thru testing facilities for COVID-19 in many areas, DeSantis said, can accommodate more people.  He urged people to get tested.

"Even if you don’t feel symptoms, if you think maybe you were in contact with someone who has tested positive or you just feel a need to, we would encourage you to come out and to get tested," DeSantis said.


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