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DeSantis, citing increased testing as COVID-19 cases climb, says no changes for Florida's reopening

The state recorded the highest number of new COVID-19 cases Tuesday at 2,783 cases.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The coronavirus pandemic has not ended, and that remains true as the number of state cases climbs at an ever-increasing clip.

But Florida's reopening plan remains on track as Gov. Ron DeSantis made clear there are no changes in the works and no mandatory mask rules on the horizon.

DeSantis largely attributed the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases to even more testing being performed, especially in high-risk areas like long-term care facilities, prisons and farming communities where people live and work in close quarters.

Community spread of COVID-19 is happening among asymptomatic people, but that's been ongoing all this time, the governor said, again saying testing within the most vulnerable and high-risk populations have shown the highest positivity rates for the virus and the most cases.

The percent positivity for new cases statewide has climbed to 7.46 percent, according to the Florida Department of Health. It's the highest figure yet within two weeks, the lowest being 2.54 percent on June 6.

"We're going to continue doing a lot of testing, I think we, probably -- we're over 30,000 test results a day now (and) we may end up seeing even more of an increase," DeSantis said.

The state broke its own record for the highest number of new and confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day -- the fourth time in a week -- with 2,783 new cases, topping the previous record set Saturday with 2,581 new cases.

The statewide total is 80,109 positive cases of COVID-19. A total of 2,993 people have died from the virus.

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The latest data from the Florida Department of Health shows 39,340 tests were performed Monday, with a three-day average of 41,334 tests conducted -- a slight increase over the previous week but slightly fewer than days earlier.

Data collected by the state show the median age of COVID-19 positive individuals dropped from about 65.5 years in early March to 37 years this past week. Leaning into this data, DeSantis said the younger age group has been more apt to better handle the virus, which leads to an overall lower hospitalization rate and less strain on the health care system.

Although masks are "recommended," DeSantis said, there's no requirement to wear them. It's up to individual businesses to decide whether their customers need to wear one or not, he added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages the use of a cloth face covering to curb the spread of COVID-19 because it may keep the wearer from spreading the respiratory virus to others. It can be especially useful in situations where social distancing measures can be difficult to maintain.

The governor did not provide modifications to the state's reopening plan, which remains in Phase Two. It allows bars and restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages to reopen at 50-percent capacity inside and full capacity outside. 

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Retail can operate at 75-percent capacity.

"We're not shutting down, we're going to go forward, we're going to continue to protect the most vulnerable," DeSantis said.

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