Florida lawmaker tests positive amid 173 coronavirus deaths

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A second Florida lawmaker said Thursday he has tested positive for the coronavirus as the state reached a new milestone with 173 reported coronavirus deaths and pushed the total number of cases in the state past 389,000.

State Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican who represents the Melbourne area, said on Twitter that he, his wife and two sons all tested positive for the virus. He is the second Florida legislator to have a positive test, after Democratic Rep. Shevrin Jones.

“Tested positive for COVID. All four of us have it. Reasonably mild symptoms now, but obviously nervous about what may lie ahead,” Fine said on Twitter.

That prompted a response from Jones, who represents part of Broward County and is running for the state Senate. He previously tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Randy! Call me if you need me. Support, prayers, advice, etc. I’m here, brother!” Jones wrote.

Fine’s positive test comes as the state Department of Health reported there were 10,249 new coronavirus cases reported Thursday. The latest death count brings the seven-day average to about 121 deaths per day in Florida.

The previous high death toll reported in a single day was 156 on July 16.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continued pushing a narrative Thursday of improving conditions in his state, even as the latest statistics on the coranavirus seem to run counter to that.

At a news conference in Brevard County, the governor again asserted that Florida, one of the country’s coronavirus hot spots, was “much better today than we were two weeks ago.”

The governor has held press conferences across the state week after week to restate the same talking points — that Florida was on the cusp of better days — and frequently trotting out speakers from local communities who have offered the governor platitudes.

“If you look, we’ve clearly stabilized with the cases. The percent positive is better in the last week than it was the previous week,” the governor said during a visit at a hospital in Melbourne, Florida.

“But we’re definitely trending in a better direction. If you take out South Florida, the rest of the state is trending even better. Although I do think South Florida has definitely stabilized, and that Miami is showing signs of improvement as well,” DeSantis said.

The bulk of COVID-19 infections have been concentrated in South Florida, where local officials have reimposed restrictions on bars, restaurants and other business to help control the spread of the virus. Miami-Dade County also has a mandatory face mask order in place, and has vowed a more aggressive enforcement.

The numbers show that Miami-Dade County reported 2,732 of the new cases and 12 deaths. Miami-Dade has more than 95,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,300 deaths, according to the health department.

More than 3.2 million people have been tested for coronavirus in Florida. The seven-day average for positive tests in Florida stood at more than 18% on Wednesday.

The number of patients being treated in hospitals statewide for COVID-19 was roughly stable Thursday, following a period about two weeks ago when hundreds of additional patients were being added per day.

Some 9,385 patients were being treated midday Thursday, a decrease from the previous day, according to running census posted online by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.


Associated Press writers Bobby Caina Calvan and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee contributed to this story.


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