More Floridians test positive; state official calls for lockdown
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The number of coronavirus cases in Florida surged by 95 patients Saturday morning, according to the latest numbers released by the Florida Department of Health.
New data confirms there is now a total of 658 people infected with the virus in the state, with 55 non-Florida residents. Twelve deaths in Florida now are attributed to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Health officials are monitoring 1,072 people with symptoms.
The department reports another Leon County-based case, bringing the total to 5, including two non-residents. The latest case was identified as a 36-year-old man, who is a non-Florida resident, who had traveled in Georgia. It was unknown if he had contact with a confirmed case.
Broward County remains the state's hotspot with 151 cases, folllowed by Miami-Dade with 142cases and Palm Beach with 42 - making up more than half of confirmed Florida infections.
Since the first U.S. case was reported in January, 20,000 individuals have contracted the respiratory illness and large segments of the U.S. population are in lockdown, with shelter-in-place orders mandated in Illinois, California and New York.
On Friday night, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to implement a statewide "stay-at-home" order in response to the unfolding crisis.
“Shutting down one of the nation’s largest states is a decision that will have an economic impact – but it is a decision that save lives,” Fried said in a prepared statement.
DeSantis has yet to respond publicly to Fried’s suggestion but said Friday he thinks there's a limit to restrictions that people will accept.
"We try to have a collaborative approach not because I think I don't have the power but ... because at the end of the day I can issue a mandate but if the local elected officials say we can't have this, then people are not going to have confidence in it," said DeSantis.
"So, if we are all on the same page, we're all in it together, we have a chance to make progress," DeSantis said.
The governor said he believed that social distancing guidelines are a more sustainable model to halt the spread of the disease. And with the state ramping up testing efforts, health officials will be better able to track the disease and contain it.
To date, Florida has tested more than 9,000 residents for the virus and there are another 1,028 tests pending.