Gov. DeSantis on COVID- 19: “Fear is our enemy here”

Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a news conference on COVID-19 at a hospital in St. Augustine on Saturday, July 18. Credit: Screenshot, Florida Channel.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday continued his message about fear during the pandemic, saying that news reports without appropriate context are creating angst and stress as Florida’s COVID-19 caseload continues to mount.

Proper context might salve people’s fears about the potentially deadly disease, DeSantis said.

“It is an enemy for us, for sure. But so, too, is fear in terms of how we approach this,” the governor said of the novel coronavirus during a news conference at Flagler Hospital.

Novel coronavirus SARS CoV2, which causes COVID-19. Microphotography by National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases

As the governor spoke, the Florida Department of Health released testing data on Saturday (gathered on Friday). The numbers showed 10,328 new positive test results and 90 new Florida resident deaths. The totals grew to 337,569 Florida cases and 4,895 deaths. The positivity rate for new COVID-91 cases was at 12.17 percent.

“There’s a lot of different things that get put out in the headlines and this and that, not always with I think the appropriate context and perspective. But I think the result is that a lot of people have a lot of angst and stress that gets built up. And I think fear is our enemy here. And I think that if we approach this with a steady resolve, I think we’re going handle it much, much better.”

In terms of context, DeSantis argued that reports about Florida’s high rates of positive test results don’t always include the fact that many of the people involved are young and less likely to suffer serious symptoms.

DeSantis has complained before about reporting on his administration, and his commissioner of education, Richard Corcoran, recently unloaded about alleged misreporting about his schools reopening order.

DeSantis also mentioned increasing availability of therapies including remdesivir and convalescent plasma — a blood product taken from people who have survived infections that can be used to treat other patients. He said the Trump administration is sending enough remdesivir to treat as many as 6,000 patents to Florida hospitals.

Asked about the death Friday night of Georgia Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights hero, in the context of the fight over the proposed removal of a Confederate monument (see this report by broadcaster WTLV), DeSantis declined to comment.

“I appreciate the question but we’re trying to focus on the coronavirus,” he said before asking another reporter, “Do you have a question about the topic at hand?”