- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 2, 2020

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday touted the progress his state has made in the battle against the coronavirus as some businesses prepare for a partial reopening on Monday.

“We’ve seen a great amount of success throughout the state, but particularly here in Orange County,” Mr. DeSantis said.

Mr. DeSantis, who was making an appearance at an Orlando hair salon, said that the number of COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) statewide is the lowest in a month and that there are currently more than 6,300 unused, idle ventilators in Florida.

He said the positive test rate for the coronavirus has hovered between about 4% and 6% over the last 10 days.

“You go to places like New Jersey — they’re 40, 45%,” he said. “Here in Florida, we’re pretty consistently about a 95% negative rate for test-takers.”

Mr. DeSantis, a top ally of President Trump, took some criticism for failing to issue a statewide “stay-at-home” order more quickly.

But he has pushed back in recent weeks by touting Florida’s numbers in comparison to hot spots like New York and New Jersey.

“Throughout this whole time I’ve said I’d rather get it right than get it fast,” he said.

Mr. DeSantis on Wednesday announced a phased reopening for some Florida businesses, with most of the state except for several hard-hit counties moving to “phase one” on May 4.

Starting on Monday, retail stores can start operating at 25% of indoor capacity.

Restaurants can offer outdoor seating with a six-foot space between tables and indoor seating at 25% capacity.

Stores like barbershops and hair salons, along with bars and gyms, are to remain closed.

Florida has had more than 34,000 positive coronavirus cases and more than 1,300 deaths out of a population of nearly 22 million people.

Adjusted for population, Florida is in the middle of the pack among the 50 U.S. states in terms of cases and deaths.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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