JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CBS12) — Gov. DeSantis says he's confident kids will be safe from the coronavirus when they go back to school in the fall.
"If you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools," said DeSantis at a news conference in Jacksonville with U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia.
DeSantis said data shows the risk of the virus in kids is extremely low, and that the risk of hospitalization from the virus for those under 18 is "substantially less" than for the flu.
"Fatalities, way higher with influenza," DeSantis added.
The governor also said studies worldwide show kids do not serve as vectors for the virus-like they do with influenza.
"When they do get infected (with the virus) it's usually the adult infecting the children," said DeSantis.
The Florida Department of Education ordered schools to reopen next month but gave districts leeway on how. The Palm Beach County School Board proposed to start the year virtually through distance learning. A recent survey of teachers showed support for starting school on Aug. 10 but keeping instruction online. Most parents surveyed supported a delay, but also a return to classrooms when it's safe.
The governor says it's critical for kids to be in classrooms.
"I want our kids to be able to minimize this education gap," said DeSantis.
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia echoed the push to get kids out of their homes, back into school buildings, and easing the burden on some families hit hard by the economic punch from the coronavirus pandemic.
"Schools are an essential service," said Scalia.
As to the spike in cases, DeSantis said it's the result of more testing, and more people being able to be tested. The governor is urging Floridians to practice the three C's: closed spaces; crowded spaces; and close contact. DeSantis said the number one venue for transmitting the coronavirus is inside your home.
The governor said he spoke with the Vice President Pence and asked the government to speed up a regularly scheduled shipment of remdesivir to Florida, saying doctors are happy with its results on patients with COVID-19.