ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a news conference Tuesday that he believes COVID-19, the novel coronavirus responsible for the current global pandemic, was circulating in the state during this year’s Super Bowl game, which was held in South Florida, the area of the Sunshine State with the most positive cases of the virus.
Super Bowl LIV was held Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, but it wasn’t until about one month later, on March 1, that the governor announced Florida’s first positive cases of COVID-19.
According to the Sun Sentinel, attendance at Hard Rock Stadium for Super Bowl LIV was just over 62,000.
[TIMELINE: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]
The governor said Tuesday that he believes there were already cases of the virus present in the Sunshine State but that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria for testing at that time would not have allowed Floridians to be tested unless they had recently visited certain areas of China, where the virus was first reported last year.
Since testing has become more readily available in Florida, thousands of cases have been reported in the Sunshine State, with the majority of them in southeast Florida.
At last check, there were 6,338 Florida-related confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 77 deaths reported statewide, according to the Florida Department of Health.
[CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: Interactive map shows Florida coronavirus cases]
On Monday, DeSantis signed a “Safer at Home” executive order to ensure that residents in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties were staying home and limiting social interaction to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the virus.
According to the latest numbers from state health officials, Miami-Dade had more than 1,900 cases of COVID-19, Broward County had 1,209 cases, Palm Beach County had more than 500 cases and Monroe County had 26.
The governor said he believes there are three main ways the virus has managed to make its way to and spread throughout Florida:
- Floridians have traveled internationally and returned to the Sunshine State.
- International travelers have visited Florida.
- People regularly tend to go back and forth between Florida and New York, which is being considered a hot spot amid the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
Within the past week, the governor ordered checkpoints be put in place at airports and on Florida’s roads to monitor travelers who are entering the state from hot spots in the U.S. DeSantis said during Tuesday’s news conference that about 8,600 people have been screened so far.
Despite calls for a statewide lockdown, DeSantis said he doesn’t believe it’s necessary at this time and is following guidance from the CDC and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which is encouraging people to practice social distancing and avoid gatherings of 10 or more.