Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wants to take a look at how the state is reporting its coronavirus cases and deaths.
During a Thursday appearance on Fox News “Fox & Friends,” he suggested that the state’s COVID-19 death roll was inflated. He also discussed reports that people had claimed they received erroneous test results even though they never submitted a COVID-19 swab for testing.
"There was a report in Orlando a week or so ago, where you had someone in a motorcycle accident [die], unfortunately," the governor said, adding that the motorcyclist's death was categorized as one of the state’s 5,500 coronavirus deaths "just because the person had previously tested positive."
He said there have been “other instances” where deaths could have been mislabeled as virus-related.
"I think the public, when they see the fatality figures, you know, they want to know, 'Who died because they caught COVID?” he said. "So, we want to look at that and see how pervasive that issue is.”
He also raised concerns over reports of people receiving positive results for tests they never took.
He blamed a "testing-industrial complex" was behind the recent claim by some residents who said they received positive virus diagnoses without taking a test.
"There's a testing-industrial complex now," the governor said. "There's a lot of money at stake here . . . people cranking out these tests. There's private companies involved."
The governor asked any Florida residents who experienced this to share information about their testing site and documentation with the government.
"We want to hold people accountable if they're engaged in funny business like that," he said, noting that none of the reports came from any testing sites that the state is running.
DeSantis said the state has consistently had between 20 to 25% of hospital beds available for patients and between 15-20% of ICU beds open.
“We have capacity,” he said, adding that emergency room visits for coronavirus illnesses peaked on July 7.
“We've seen a general flattening in the hospital census for COVID so those are the types of indicators where you see you're starting to get stabilization,” he said. “Our positivity rate is slightly down from where it was, which we think will continue.”
He said he doesn’t think the state opening “too fast” is the reason for the recent spike in cases.
“We had six weeks of Phase One where we had our lowest numbers yet, it’s a five-day incubation period so if that was the cause you would have seen spikes,” he said. “And then southern Florida, which is where we've had most of our cases and hospitalizations, or a significant portion, they've been on a different schedule entirely. They’re still in Phase One. They were closed for basically two months. They've never had pubs or anything like that open.”
He added that “people are always trying to do political blame, but I do think the trends are much more positive today than they were two weeks ago.”
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