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DeSantis: Broward First For Drive-Through Coronavirus Tests

Gov. DeSantis gives an update on the COVID-19 outbreak in Tallahassee Sunday night
Florida Channel
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says a drive-through testing site for COVID-19 will be set up this week in Broward County, which has been hit particularly hard by coronavirus. He said during a press conference Sunday night in Tallahassee it will be manned by Florida National Guard troops.

DeSantis also called on muncipalities to call off spring break festivities, saying large gatherings could become a breeding ground for the disease.

The drive-through sites in Broward will be a joint project between Memorial Health Care System of Broward County and the National Guard. DeSantis said there are 170 troops on the ground now and he expects that to be augmented by "several hundred" more by Monday.

He acknowledged there have been problems in some states with drive-through testing, so they're going to try to "do it right." 

"Clearly, the folks who are elderly that have symptoms, that have an underlying medical condition, we want to have the easiest way possible for them to test," he said, "and then if need be, to get treatment or to self-isolate."

The Florida Department of Health announced 39 new cases of coronavirus early Sunday morning, including four in the Tampa Bay area. That puts the state over 100 people infected since the first confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported on March 1.

It’s also the largest number announced at one time since the outbreak began.

Three of the four new Tampa Bay area cases are domestic travel-related: a 47 year-old man and a 32-year-old woman in Hillsborough County, and a 67-year-old man in Pasco County.

The fourth is a 17-year-old man from Cuba who tested positive in Hillsborough County. Officials say an epidemiological investigation into his case is ongoing. [ Read more]

As of early Sunday night, 136 Florida residents have tested positive for coronavirus, six Floridians have tested positive outside the state, and 13 non-residents have been diagnosed by the Florida Department of Health. Four people so far have died from the disease.

DeSantis said he was concerned with seeing news reports over the weekend of huge crowds gathering for spring break.

"That is something that is problematic," he said, "because although COVID-19 - the data suggests - is probably not a very serious threat to the health of people that are young and don't have underlying medical conditions, they can still acquire it and transmit it to others."

The cities of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale -- popular among college students on spring break -- announced Sunday that they would close off some of their popular beaches and ordered “non-essential” businesses to close by 10 p.m. to prevent large crowds from forming.

Also, the governor backed off suggestions to close restaurants throughout the state.

"People have said let's close all the restaurants," he said, "I don't know that I'm convinced that is neccessary, but I do think, you know, areas around the country, you know municipalities say there needs to be a certain amount of distance between each table, maybe have a 50 percent limit in terms of the restaurant, I think that's something that would probably be more feasible."

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.