FT. LAUDERDALE — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pointed to efforts of one of his state's largest hospital systems as an example of practical data tracking that can give a clearer picture of the coronavirus pandemic.
During a press conference at Broward Health Medical Center in Ft. Lauderdale, DeSantis noted what workers at the Jackson Health System in Miami are doing, which is noting which patients with COVID-19 are there because of the pandemic and which ones are there for other reasons but happen to test positive while they are there.
"I think that’s an important distinction to make when you have a variant like omicron which is much more widespread," DeSantis said. "You are going to have people who get into a car accident and go into the emergency room. They’re swabbing everybody, and you’re going to have people that have incidental positives."
The governor said the Jackson network anticipates "about half of their COVID-positive patients within their system were not being treated for COVID," which shows that hospital case numbers alone do not tell the whole story of the pandemic.
"Looking to see who is being admitted for COVID versus who may be admitted with COVID is going to be important to really chart the severity of what we’re seeing," DeSantis said.
DeSantis also said there is "obviously a crunch on the availability of tests" at the moment," noting that the Biden administration has vowed to send free tests to Americans in the near future.
"I don’t know when that’s coming, if it’ll come," DeSantis said.
Meanwhile, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo stressed the need to shift the approach to testing by focusing on a strategy that "reduces the use of low-value testing and prioritizes high-value testing," meaning those that "are likely to change outcomes." This, he said, means more effort to test the elderly or immunocompromised than for asymptomatic school children.
"We’re going to be working to unwind the sort of testing psychology that our federal leadership has managed to unfortunately get most of the country in over the last two years, Ladapo said, warning that otherwise " we’re going to be sort of stuck in this same cycle."