Despite non-stop headlines about a coronavirus “spike” in Florida, the state’s resurgence of COVID-19 is still overwhelmingly driven by college-aged youth between 20-24 years old. In fact, over the past 72 hours, that trend has only grown more pronounced, as that age demographic now accounts for nearly 17 percent of all new infections:
The chart above shows just how dramatically the coronavirus outbreak has shifted and started to spread like wildfire among Florida’s younger population. While DeSantis has tried to avoid making a direct case that protesters helped drive this new outbreak, it’s hard to imagine the protests aren’t to blame at least in part.
But the growth in cases among Florida’s young adults, while still a significant concern, comes with a silver lining: younger COVID-19 victims means fewer serious symptoms, less pressure on Florida’s health care system, and a lower number of fatalities. While hospitalization numbers have ticked up slightly, they still remain below the level Florida was at during late May, weeks after reopening the state economy:
Based on the hospitalization data, Governor Ron DeSantis said in a press conference over the weekend that, barring any significant new developments, he had no intention to walk back his reopening strategy. And who can blame him when the previous lockdown was solely intended to relieve expected pressure on the state’s hospital system, which we later learned was never in any actual jeopardy of being overrun.
DeSantis did however admit that the growing number of cases represented a valid concern that he’s watching closely, but nothing that requires a change in direction at this stage. The concern, obviously, is that the disease will eventually spread to older Floridians. If that happens, and if hospitalizations start increasing to the point of overwhelming the hospital system, DeSantis would likely intervene. Short of that, however, the Republican governor is inclined to give the citizens of his state the freedom to make their own decisions.
Meanwhile, Florida Democrats have made it no secret that, were they in charge, Florida would be in full lockdown mode. Embattled Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried criticized DeSantis for not doing more about the resurgence in COVID-19 cases:
But even more, he owes Floridians a serious response to this crisis. And right now, we’re not getting one. https://t.co/NRIwiIPj9X
— Nikki Fried (@nikkifried) June 21, 2020
Her social media criticisms aside, Fried has not elaborated on what she thinks DeSantis should do differently. She has previously declined to respond to requests for comment asking for details about the policies she would support to combat the pandemic.