Saturday, August 15, 2020
75.8 F
Ocala

DeSantis backtracks on COVID-19 surge and vows enforcement of social distancing

Gov. Ron DeSantis backtracked Saturday on earlier statements he made about the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases across Florida and issued a stern warning to businesses that aren’t practicing social distancing.

In a rare weekend press conference, DeSantis said the rising number of cases – there have been 38,527 new patients identified since June 3 when he announced Phase Two of reopening the state – can’t just be explained by additional testing as he had suggested last week. At the time, he also had attributed the increase in cases to testing among migrant workers who live and work in close quarters and inmates and staff members in jails and prisons, among other things.

Gov. Ron DeSantis promised Saturday that compliance officers from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation will be making random checks at restaurants, bars and nightclubs to make sure that COVID-19-related social distancing mandates are being followed.

DeSantis pointed out that a large portion of new cases in the Sunshine State are among younger adults who mostly are asymptomatic. Statistics provided Sunday by the Florida Department of Health show that among 95,139 Florida resident cases, 31 percent, or 29,515, are among those 15-34 years of age. That age group also accounts for just 18 of the 3,161 COVID-19 deaths reported across the state.

“We’d much rather obviously have to deal with this than have it trend older, which is the vulnerable population,” he said.

DeSantis said the pace of the spread of the virus among that younger age group is concerning and he is “doubling down” on the need for social distancing – especially among younger adults frequenting bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

“I think statewide people have done a fantastic job,” he said. “But you do hear reports about people just jam-packed in some of these places. That is not what we’re looking to do. We want to do it in a very measured way.”

The governor also promised that compliance officers from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation would be making random checks at those types of businesses across the state and enforcing the social distancing mandates.

“There’s a reason why it was done that way. It wasn’t just pulled out of a hat,” he said. “It was done in a way to allow businesses to reopen … but to do it in a way that minimized risk. And when those very reasonable guidelines are disobeyed, it ends up defeating some of the purpose of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

DeSantis reiterated that Floridians age 65 and up and those with underlying health conditions – the groups that are most vulnerable to COVID-19 – need to continue to limit contact with people outside their homes, avoid crowds and continue to practice social distancing when they have to go somewhere. He added that those residents could be more susceptible to catching the virus from those among the younger generations.

“As we’re seeing more infections documented amongst younger people, that that could potentially impose a risk of transmission,” he said, while praising seniors across the state for taking the pandemic threat seriously.

DeSantis also addressed the fact that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was had issued a threat to order quarantines for Floridians visiting his state. DeSantis had ordered quarantines for visitors from New York at the height of the pandemic and had been critical of Cuomo when reports surfaced earlier this year about COVID-19 patients being placed in nursing homes.

“I would just ask them if that’s done, please do not quarantine any Floridians in the nursing homes in New York,” he said.

Photos in Ocala, Florida

Crime

Specialized strike team busts Ocala man on 30 drug-related charges

An Ocala man is behind bars on 30 drug-related charges after a specialized strike team busted him at a local mobile home park.

Belleview man jailed after nasty spat over TV remote

A 24-year-old Belleview man was arrested after he allegedly battered a woman during an argument over a TV remote control.

Ocala woman popped for DUI after drinking at Bank Street Patio Bar

An Ocala woman was charged with DUI after drinking at the Bank Street Patio Bar.

Vanguard High School teacher’s assistant jailed on charge of unlawful sex with minor

A 31-year-old Ocala high school teacher’s assistant was jailed Friday and charged with having unlawful sex with a minor.

Business

Kids’ Health Alliance hosting yearly Back-to-School giveaway as drive-in event

Kids' Health Alliance, a local Pediatric medical practice, is hosting their yearly Back-to-School Giveaway on August 1st, 2020, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Ocala Walmarts to begin requiring customers to wear face masks

All Ocala Wal-Marts will begin requiring customers to wear face masks in all of its stores beginning Monday, July 20.

Local ‘1 Million Cups’ networking group warns membership of potential COVID contact

The local One Million Cups chapter issued a statement to its membership on Thursday to warn of possible contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Florida home insurance premiums second highest in United States

Florida’s home insurance premiums are the second highest in the United States after Louisiana.

Subscribe for email updates

* indicates required

Headlines

Specialized strike team busts Ocala man on 30 drug-related charges

An Ocala man is behind bars on 30 drug-related charges after a specialized strike team busted him at a local mobile home park.

Belleview man jailed after nasty spat over TV remote

A 24-year-old Belleview man was arrested after he allegedly battered a woman during an argument over a TV remote control.

Ocala woman popped for DUI after drinking at Bank Street Patio Bar

An Ocala woman was charged with DUI after drinking at the Bank Street Patio Bar.

Five Marion County residents among latest local COVID-19 deaths

Five Marion County residents and four Lake County residents are among the latest local fatalities of the COVID-19 virus.

More articles like this