Florida Coronavirus Cases Far Lower Than Predicted; Gov. DeSantis Still Struggling In The Polls

REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Florida has fared far better than New York during the coronavirus pandemic when it comes to the number of cases and deaths, despite widespread criticism of the Sunshine State’s response.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is lagging behind Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in coronavirus approval ratings.

With a higher population density in New York City, New York has had 20,000 more deaths and an infection rate 8 times higher than Florida, according to data from the COVID tracking project. New York has given out more tests and 26 percent of all tests in New York came back positive, while only 7 percent of tests in Florida were positive. 

The two states had different approaches to handling vulnerable populations. 

Faced with an aging population, DeSantis used the Florida National Guard to deploy “strike teams” in early April to “significantly ramp up testing in long-term care facilities.” 

Later, in early May, he unveiled mobile testing units to send tests to nursing and retirement homes. 

“You should be able to go to long-term care facilities, get results back almost immediately, and then be able to, if there is a case, isolate the worker, the resident, appropriately,” he said. 

Questions were raised about the effectiveness of DeSantis’ approach when records from the Department of Health obtained by the Miami Herald revealed that the strike teams only tested about 6 percent of long-term care facilities in the month-long period after they were deployed April 11.

Most recently, DeSantis rejected a White House proposal requiring testing of all nursing home residents and staff, choosing to keep testing voluntary for each individual home.

In New York, nursing homes were forced to take in coronavirus patients, increasing the spread of coronavirus among the state’s most vulnerable population. The New York State Department of Health issued a new rule March 25 saying that “no resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.” 

Cuomo faced backlash for the order after Department of Health data revealed that 2,300 residents had died from COVID-19, and at least 2,500 additional residents were suspected to have died from the virus, Politico reported. He recently reversed the order. (RELATED: Andrew Cuomo Has Blood On His Hands, Media Blames Trump)

The Sunshine State faced further criticism for its handling of COVID-19; when beaches began to reopen in mid-April, photos surfaced showing crowded beaches in Jacksonville, among other areas, sparking #FloridaMorons to trend on Twitter.

However, the number of coronavirus cases in Florida are far fewer than predicted. 

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation out of the University of Washington originally predicted that Florida’s death toll would reach 7,000 by June 25, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The projections now show Florida reaching a death toll of 5,800 by Aug. 1. 

DeSantis praised the state’s coronavirus response during a press conference April 25.

“Florida’s performed better than anyone predicted,” he said. “If you go back six weeks, there were people saying that Florida was going to be another New York or another Italy — those have all been proven to be false.”

Despite New York’s fatality and infection rate being significantly higher and Cuomo reportedly forcing homes for the most vulnerable populations to take in infected people, the New York governor is still doing better in state-wide opinion polls regarding his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Eighty-one percent of New Yorkers say they approve of Cuomo’s response to coronavirus, compared to only 53 percent of Floridians saying they approve of DeSantis’ response, according to polling done by Quinnipiac University.