TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis has “lost control of Florida’s COVID-19 response,” according to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
Fried released a statement knocking DeSantis’ leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic on the same day the Florida Department of Health reported a record-high number of COVID-19 cases confirmed statewide in a single day.
She said the recent spike in reported cases “makes it clear” that the public health situation is not under control.
“His policies are simply not working, and he’s recklessly reopening Florida despite the data screaming for caution. Refusing to acknowledge the alarming patterns in cases, hospitalizations, and positivity is not only arrogant, but will cost lives, public health and our economy,” Fried said in her statement. "To our citizens, I implore you to wear masks and continue social distancing – and just because a place is open, doesn’t mean it’s safe to go there. To our local governments, please encourage your residents to stay home, mask up and socially distance. If the governor is unwilling to make the right decisions, then they must be made in our cities, our states and our homes. We are in this together, and I will continue fighting on behalf of all Floridians.”
On Tuesday, Florida health officials reported a record 2,783 new cases and 55 new deaths, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 80,109, along with 2,993 total deaths. Tuesday’s numbers marked the highest number of new cases reported since the novel coronavirus was first reported in Florida on March 1.
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A spike in coronavirus cases is also reflected in data from last week, with 2,581 new cases reported Friday.
Florida is currently in week two of its second phase of reopening the state’s economy following a weeks-long statewide shutdown in April.
As part of phase two of the state’s reopening, bars, movie theaters and other entertainment venues have reopened their doors after months of being closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. Since phase two began, a number of Florida bars that reopened have been forced to close again after learning customers infected with COVID-19 had visited the businesses.
Testing availability has also become more widespread in recent weeks compared to COVID-19 testing opportunities when the pandemic first began.
The newly reported cases also depend on the number of tests administered per day, but the state doesn’t release private lab testing in its overall total so that percentage is difficult to determine.
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Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued words of caution in a news conference Monday, saying that a continued rise in cases could mean scaling back business reopenings and public events to help control the spread of the disease. Demings said a lockdown could be put back in place to protect residents if newly reported cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.
Dr. Raul Pino, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, provided the latest coronavirus figures for the region, which showed a spike of 730 new COVID-19 cases last week alone, up 202% from the week before.
Demings added that leaders expected to see an increase in cases as the economy started to reopen but they didn’t expect the increase to be so exponential. The concern now is that local numbers could exceed what was seen during the peak around April 10.
When asked about possible plans for another mandated shutdown, Demings said, in short, “we’re not there yet,” but did mention a mask mandate of some sort could be coming soon.