PENSACOLA, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced no new major policy changes to limit the spread of COVID-19 on Sunday while asserting the largest increases in COVID-19 cases continue to be within the younger population.
The briefing came as the state marked a third straight day of more than 8,500 new confirmed cases of the virus. Those three days have also consistently seen a positivity rate of greater than 12 percent.
State and local health officials at the Sunday briefing asked people to continue practicing the basics: wear a mask when in public, sanitize common surfaces and wash your hands -- frequently. It's also important for people to avoid crowded places, DeSantis said.
A statewide mask-wearing mandate, something like other counties and cities already have implemented, is not yet on the horizon.
Because COVID-19 infections have spread throughout the younger population, who have been more apt to handle the virus, officials said hospitalizations rates have been steady and could handle any sudden spike. The median age of the latest batch of cases is 36 years old.
"We have plenty of capacity," one doctor said.
The governor surmised people might have assumed the virus lessened in early June when there were nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody.
"It's not gone, we knew that from the beginning," DeSantis said.
But DeSantis also kept the door open for the Republican National Convention to be held in August in Jacksonville despite nearly 200 Florida doctors recently signing a letter to the city's mayor, calling the hosting of the RNC "medically disrespectful to citizens."
Such an event likely will bring thousands of people together in a tightly-packed space, something that the governor frowned upon Sunday. He said the state was in "much better shape" now than it was earlier on in the pandemic.
"We're now in a place to be able to handle this, but we still have to ... press forward and live everyday life," DeSantis said.
The Florida Department of Health reported another 8,530 newly-confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday. That number is now the third-highest single-day jump in new COVID-19 cases in Florida since tracking began in March, according to health department data.
For context, 72,195 test results were turned into the health department within the last day. That's a slight decrease from the day prior, which had 78,318 tests turned in. It's the third day in a row where more than 71,000 test results were received from the lab.
"A person is only counted once for each day they are tested, regardless of whether multiple specimens are tested or multiple results are received," the state said of the data.
Florida says 12.4 percent of those most recent tests were positive. Health experts have repeatedly recommended a 5 percent positivity rate over a two-week period to be comfortable reopening. Currently, Florida is seeing more than double that.