Gov. Ron Desantis held a news conference at the university on Friday with Mayor Carlos Gimenez, President Mark B. Rosenberg, Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration Mary Mayhew and local health care CEOs to discuss how Florida is addressing the coronavirus.
The governor shared updated statistics about COVID-19. About 1.5 million tests have been conducted in the state, he said, and the median age of people who are testing positive is trending younger.
“You’re starting to see increases in [positive tests], particularly for those under the age of 45,” DeSantis said.
As cases increase, the governor said that long-term care facilities are being set up specifically to house the elderly who are infected with COVID-19. Miami-Dade County will have one soon, he said.
Mayhew explained why these facilities are necessary.
“We have nursing homes here in Florida and certainly in Miami-Dade and Broward, facilities that are 40, 50 year-old buildings. They are maxed in their occupancy. Awfully difficult to isolate in those buildings,” Mayhew said.
Mayor Gimenez also provided an update regarding coronavirus guidelines in Miami-Dade County.
“For those 60 and over, those with underlying medical conditions, the safer-at-home guidelines are still in place. You are safer at home. We are going to continue to open up the economy. Right now, we are taking a pause while we try to assimilate these numbers. But we are not going to go back. We are going to be doing more enforcement, but are not going to go back,” Gimenez said.
Those guidelines include wearing masks and social distancing. FIU’s own plan to repopulate its campuses in the fall calls for these measures as well.
President Mark B. Rosenberg reiterated that FIU has been working closely with the governor's office throughout the pandemic.
“We understand that we have to remain focused on student success. At the same time, we know as universities and in higher education that we have an important role in restoring our state and national health,” Rosenberg said.
DeSantis used the conference to not only provide information but also dispel a rumor he heard in the media that there are not enough hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients in Florida.
“Bottom line is, twice as many hospital beds are available today than before the pandemic began. We are down on ICU hospitalizations since April,” DeSantis said.
The governor also asked CEOs to discuss what progress has been made in discovering treatments for COVID-19.
“There is no real cure right now, but we’ve learned,” said Aurelio Fernandez, CEO of Memorial Healthcare System and a two-time FIU alumnus. “For example, we are using high flow nasal cannulas instead of ventilators and are processing five times the amount of oxygen to the body. Back in March, we were not using that, we were dependent on ventilators."
Fernandez continued: “I have been in this business for over 40 somewhat years, and I have never, ever seen a collaboration between all the hospitals, who have always been competitors, with a single mission. And that is to provide the community with a level of care to avoid potential spread.”