A 22-year-old man is the youngest person in Pinellas County to die as a result of COVID-19.
The man’s death was reported June 25 by the Florida Department of Health, which did not provide any additional identifying information.
He’s one of 83 people in Florida age 44 or younger who have died of the virus through June 27, according to the health department.
That’s about one-tenth of one percent of the total 77,284 people in that age group who have tested positive for COVID-19 since early March.
But the 83 deaths among younger people is also more than double the number of younger people who had died as of May 4, when there were 39 deaths among people 44 and younger. May 4 is the date that Florida began reopening businesses that were shut down or had operations curtailed in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
On Friday, as newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida hit a new one-day record, the state suspended on-premise consumption of alcohol in bars but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said no further actions to slow the spread are planned right now.
“We’re in good shape in terms of what we’re doing,” DeSantis said at a news conference at a hospital in Pensacola Sunday.
Restricting alcohol sales “was mostly a matter of administration. There was no way to ensure compliance,” he said. He said he would rather see businesses open and complying with regulations. “At the end of the day, my view is I’d rather have those places open and complying because I think that’s less risky than what a lot of the young people will end up doing. They’re still going to do things most likely, and may end up doing things in ways that are even more risky.”
Young people primarily are responsible for the dramatic increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past several days. That’s likely due to socializing such as graduation parties, DeSantis said.
Compared to older individuals, people age 44 and younger are less likely to have severe consequence from the virus, he said.
“They’re much less likely to see significant clinical outcomes, much less likely to be hospitalized and way, way less likely to suffer a fatality. And yes those fatalities are not all caused by COVID. They are fatalities with COVID, so it does include more than just ones with that,” DeSantis said. “But still, even with that, you still see the numbers in those younger age groups compared to the number of positive tests very, very, very low fatality rates.”
The officials at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital who joined DeSantis at the news conference agreed they are seeing an uptick in younger people with confirmed cases of COVID-19. One of them, Dr. Jason Foland, medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at the hospital, offered a theory that he said has not yet been confirmed that younger people are suffering from a less aggressive strain of the virus.
“If you get very sick very quickly with an aggressive strain, you are not out in the community and you’re not spreading it. But if you have symptoms much like the common cold you are spreading it all over the place,” Foland said.
Given the rising numbers of cases, DeSantis was asked about the plan to hold the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville in late August.
“We’re in a dynamic situation. They know that. But I think we’ll be fine by that time. It’s a couple of months away and we look forward to seeing that,” he said.
Here are the latest numbers for Florida and Pinellas County as of Sunday, June 28:
• Florida total confirmed cases: 141,075
• Florida confirmed deaths:3,518
• Pinellas County total confirmed cases: 6,020
• Pinellas County confirmed deaths: 154