Florida Reports Record-High Coronavirus Deaths, But State Closes Testing Facilities Due to Tropical Storm Isaias
Not only are deaths up, but the state’s positivity rate is pushing 20% as Tropical Storm Isaias approaches.
On the same day 216 Floridians died from the coronavirus, officials announced they would close all state-run testing facilities until at least Tuesday due to Tropical Storm Isaias.
Tropical Storm Isaias is expected to make landfall in Florida on the weekend and bring strong winds and rain. The storm was considered a “potential tropical cyclone” before it even formed allowing countries to issue warnings, according to CNN.
As the storm is not expected to make landfall until the weekend, the state’s decision to close state-run testing facilities starting Thursday will raise questions. The closure thus far only impacts state-run testing sites.
President Donald Trump has lamented the amount of testing the country does and said it “makes us look bad.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also been under fire for his response to the crisis, with protestors interrupting a press conference last week.
Both right-wing pundits and the White House praised DeSantis and other Republican governors for safely and quickly reopening their economies. Now, Florida is one of the epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Over 450,000 people have tested positive for the virus, and 6,335 people have died from complications.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins, the number of tests administered in the last several days in Florida was already decreasing before the latest announcement. In the last three days, less than 50,000 people were being tested daily compared to above 65,000 on many days the weeks prior.
As testing has slightly dropped, the state’s positivity rate has increased with the seven-day average now pushing 20%.
Local news station WFLA reported that many companies conducting coronavirus testing are experiencing long backlogs with patients waiting days and weeks for results.
A 65-year-old Floridian waiting on test results for two weeks told WFLA, “I’ve had a fever, I’ve had headaches, I haven’t been able to smell anything now for two weeks.”
Backlogs often occur because private labs are overwhelmed with the number of tests coming in, resulting in a wait of weeks and rendering results useless.
Montana had to change labs when Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s largest diagnostic testing companies, told the governor they would not be able to take on new tests for 2-3 weeks.
Governor Trying to Limit Testing?
Governor DeSantis has repeatedly obstructed the release of full public health information to the public and come under fire from data scientists in his state.
Rebekah Jones was fired in May after running one of the nation’s best coronavirus data projects, mapping the spread of the virus in Florida. Jones said she was fired because she refused to manipulate data and make the cases look more manageable.
Since then, Jones has started the Florida COVID Action project to map the state’s data.
Other prominent voices in opposition to the Governor’s actions include Daniel Uhlfelder, a lawyer who went to Florida beaches in May dressed as the Grim Reaper.
When the closure of state-run testing facilities was announced, Uhlfelder said, “DeSantis demands all schools and rest of state should open during a deadly global pandemic, but close all 32 state COVID-19 sites for a week starting tomorrow when the storm will still be over Cuba.”
The sites are set to close at the end of business on Thursday, but the storm is not expected to reach Florida’s shores until late Saturday or Sunday.
Tropical Storm Isaias is the earliest “I” storm on record as this year’s hurricane season has generated a record number of storms. Thus far, the storms have not been as powerful as in recent years.