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Florida doctors call on state leaders to expand rapid-result COVID-19 testing

Posted at 7:02 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 20:00:59-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.  — As schools prepare to reopen classrooms in Palm Beach County on September 21, a group of South Florida physicians worries it’s still too soon.

Thursday, several doctors held a virtual news conference to voice their concerns about the transition.

They’re calling on Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Health to expand rapid testing and tracing to all school districts throughout the state.

“The schools were basically mandated to return without any specific strategy about how to mitigate virus spread,” said Dr. Bernard Ashby, a cardiologist in Miami. “We have the technology to do rapid testing, but that has not been a priority for the administration. It’s only been recent that the administration has allocated resources to rapid testing.”

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) reports a steady decline in the number of reported Florida resident deaths who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19.

State leaders say the positivity rate of new cases continues to stand below 10 percent for the fourth consecutive week.

On Thursday, state officials reported that the fourth week of July compared to the fourth week of August showed a 75 percent decrease in the average number of reported COVID-19 related deaths.

According to the CDC, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it.

“We’re seeing more cases of children with multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome where organs become inflated,” said Dr. Ankush Bansal, an internal medicine hospitalist in Palm Beach Gardens.

The School District of Palm Beach County said more than 1,250 employees have already applied for remote working assignments as of Thursday evening.

The option was made available for employees with health concerns who want to continue working remotely when classrooms open for brick-and-mortar instruction on Monday, Sept. 21.

“You have to think about all of the other support staff who else is working in that school,” said Dr. Bansal.

The district started processing applications on Thursday.

Priority approval will be given to district employees based on medical need.