Coronavirus testing to expand in Palm Beach County, governor says

'I think it's important to expand the testing there,' DeSantis says
Posted at 2:05 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 17:17:49-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to dramatically expand testing for the deadly coronavirus in Palm Beach County.

Speaking from his office in Tallahassee on Friday, the governor said he's sending the National Guard to set up a mass COVID-19 testing site in the county.

"If you look at the numbers in the state of Florida, Dade and Broward far and away, the top two counties for infections. Palm Beach is kind of a distant third," DeSantis said. "But if you look at Palm Beach's numbers, they have not had nearly the amount of testing that Dade and Broward have had."


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According to the Florida Department of Health, 5,845 people have been tested in Broward County, 5,310 have been tested in Miami-Dade County, and 1,488 have been tested in Palm Beach County.

"I think it's important to expand the testing there so that we can get a better sense of what's going on," the governor said.

DeSantis added that a location for mass testing in Palm Beach County has not been determined, nor has a timeline for when it may open.

But the governor said he's putting this initiative on the fast track.

"I directed the Emergency Management folks that you need to get this up and running as soon as possible," DeSantis said.

Palm Beach County has 194 confirmed cases of COVID-19, compared to 763 in Miami-Dade County and 596 in Broward County.

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The governor also expanded an emergency order on Friday mandating that anyone who travels from New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana to Florida self-isolate for 14 days.

DeSantis said 3,400 travelers from the New York City area have already been screened at Florida airports thanks to an executive order he issued earlier this week.

In addition, the governor suspended new vacation rentals in Florida for two weeks, and directed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to enforce social distancing rules on the water.

"You need to be in groups of 10 or less," the governor said. "What they're doing is they're tying all these boats together and then having large group parties."

Earlier this week, DeSantis said he has no plans to issue a sweeping stay-at-home order for the entire state of Florida, calling such a measure "inappropriate."

State leaders are urging residents who are 65 and older, along with those who have underlying health conditions, to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

For the latest information about coronavirus cases in Florida, click here.