TAMPA, Fla. — The White House is issuing a new push for Floridians under the age of 40, who have recently participated in a large gathering, to get tested for COVID-19. This is due to the increase in the asymptomatic spread that puts those who are older and immune-compromised at risk.
In a press conference on Thursday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said it's critical that many younger Americans be screened for COVID-19, specifically here in Florida.
"If you've participated in a large gathering in the last four weeks, we asked all of you to come forward and be tested because of the level of asymptomatic spread," Birx said. "So, we're asking for everyone under 40 that if you were in a gathering, please go and get tested."
Birx said toward the end of May, the White House Coronavirus Task Force began to see Florida's numbers increase and go from a "very low" 4%t positivity rate at the end of May, to a "high" 17% positivity rate at the beginning of July.
"So, this virus came to Tampa and spread through Tampa sometime along the end of May," Birx said at a press conference at USF, sitting alongside Governor Ron Desantis and Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House Coronavirus Task Force. "We all have a critical role to play over the next two to three weeks to stop that spread."
Birx said we know what works in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and that includes hand washing, social distancing, wearing masks and not having large gatherings inside or outside.
Pence echoed what Birx said and urged Floridians to take precautions as COVID-19 numbers spike.
"It's a truism of this moment in the pandemic that some 50% of all the new cases are Americans under the age of 35," Pence said.
Pence said that without a serious, underlying health condition, the threat of coronavirus to younger Americans is low; however, that doesn't mean they couldn't easily transmit the virus to older and more vulnerable Americans.
"No younger American would ever want to put at risk a grandmother or grandfather, a mom, a dad, an elderly neighbor, or friend by inadvertently exposing them to the coronavirus, and that's why we encourage you to be vigilant," Pence said.