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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida hospitals are getting COVID-19 tests with five-minute results

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 5:26 PM

  • Screenshot via the Florida Channel
At his Tuesday afternoon press conference, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said rapid-result COVID-19 tests are on the way to Florida. Apparently not on the way, however, is a statewide stay-at-home order.

Calling them "instant tests," DeSantis said the new coronavirus tests, made by pharmaceutical company Avid, take 5 to 15 minutes to give results.

DeSantis said there are 2,000 of the tests on the way to Florida, to be spread out to hospitals across the state. He then added, "I'm asking folks at the Department of Health, Emergency Management, to get some of those tests."

DeSantis says the new tests are the way forward, and are "perfect to do spot-checking" of health workers and residents of nursing homes. Whereas a statewide stay-at-home order, say many credible sources, would go much further in "flattening the curve."

One of those resources is Covid Act Now, a tool designed to "help leaders and communities understand how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect regions across the country." Backed by international scientists, the model shows Florida is in deep shit if DeSantis doesn't take bigger steps to reduce the spread.

click to enlarge IMAGE VIA COVID ACT NOW
  • Image via Covid Act Now

A journalist asked if DeSantis had seen recent photos of packed Florida beaches, despite the local stay-at-home orders.

"There are a group of people who are just going to pop around, and it's up to the locals to decide where they go," said DeSantis. "People should just chill out and hang out around the house as much as they can."

The governor again stopped short of issuing a statewide shutdown of non-essential activities, as has been recommended by public health officials. At the time of the press conference, Florida has 338 coronavirus cases, with 77 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said on Monday he would likely extend and toughen the county's current "stay-at-home" order beyond April 9, and called on DeSantis finally put in place a statewide order.

Demings told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday, "I believe with full candor that political partisanship has played a role in the ineffective response to this pandemic during the early days."

At Tuesday's press conference, DeSantis also brought up chloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria that President Donald Trump touted without proof as effective in curing coronavirus. Hours before the DeSantis press conference on Tuesday, the European Union said there was no evidence that the drug was effective against the disease.

"The efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients has to date not been proved," said a spokesman for the European Commission on Tuesday, reflecting the opinion of the European Medicine Agency.

In reference to using the drug to cure COVID-19, Trump had called hydroxychloroquine, a safer version of chloroquine, "the biggest game changers in the history of medicine," language repeated by DeSantis on Tuesday.

"Probably within the next week, and I think this will be an absolute game changer," DeSantis said of the drug.

Trump had said of the drug, erroneously, that "the nice part is, it's been around for a long time, so we know that if things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody." There have, however, been three overdoses in Nigeria and an Arizona man died after taking a form of the drug made for aquariums, leaving his wife in critical condition.

"The FDA just came out with the emergency approval. This is kind of anecdotal but you see more and more people starting to use it," said DeSantis. Indeed, the FDA did on Sunday issue an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, despite scant evidence. DeSantis said he wanted to "make sure the drug is available," in case it actually works.

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