ORLANDO, Fla. – Families across Florida are preparing to celebrate Christmas, but the winter holiday will look different this year due to widespread joblessness as well as social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions.
For weeks now, local leaders have asked that residents keep their gatherings small, ideally with only members of their immediate household, and host celebrations outside where there’s less of a risk of transmission.
Dr. Raul Pino stressed the importance of masks and good hygiene, regardless of the size or the circumstances.
“Although we are not expecting people to be masked during dinner and we are not expecting people to be absolutely masked when they are by themselves. But if you are having a close niche, if you are inviting your cousins and other family members that are not from that household, it would be safe to keep some distance. We can still share food, we can still share time, we can still watch a movie together and be separated if you don’t know the person’s status,” Pino said on Friday.
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Florida seniors next in line for vaccine as state reports 11,000 new COVID-19 cases]
Those same words of caution have been echoed on a national level as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance warning against travel.
“Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” the guidance read.
Still, many are traveling by both plane and car to visit loved ones for the winter holidays with the Associated Press reporting that more than 5 million people passed through the nation’s airport security checkpoints between Friday and Tuesday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
For others, the financial repercussions of the pandemic have made celebrating the holiday with gifts or travel impossible.
The AP reports that 10 million Americans have been jobless since March, 8 million of whom hit poverty levels during the summer months.
A scaled-back holiday is what Summer Kluytman has been envisioning. She had to tell her two teenage sons not to expect the kinds of Christmas gifts they’ve typical received in the past, like the $400 Oculus virtual reality headset that was under the tree last year.
Having lost two art teaching jobs, Kluytman had to go on food stamps to help pay for groceries. The salary of her husband, who works for a cable company, goes toward the rent for their home in St. Petersburg.
Kluytman is spending $100 on each son this Christmas for hoodies and other clothing, down from the $500 she spent on each last year. She plans to hold movie nights, where they’ll gather in the living room to catch a flick.
“I think that they’re cool with us spending time together as opposed to a bunch of stuff under the tree,” she said. “But it does break my heart a little bit.”
All state-supported COVID-19 testing sites will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Dec. 24:
The Florida Department of Health reported 12,853 new cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,247,546 cases since March.
Editor’s note: Along with the resources previously utilized by News 6 (state and county-by-county data), as of Dec. 7, WKMG has added state data pulled from the Florida Department of Health’s Florida COVID19 State Testing Totals. This new dataset includes the number of people tested the day prior, which is the number public health officials use to calculate the state’s daily positivity rate.
Florida reported 122 new virus deaths Thursday. This means at least 21,295 people have died in relation to the coronavirus across the state, including 300 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Thursday afternoon, there are currently 5,622 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration, an increase by 32 patients within 24 hours.
Since March, 61,100 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from the coronavirus. That number includes the 300 people who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report.
The positivity rate for the 163,886 tests reported Thursday was 7.84%. This statistic is the number of people who tested positive for the first time based on test results reported to the state Wednesday.
The Florida Department of Health recently began releasing a daily report on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. As of Thursday, 93,077 people have been vaccinated in Florida, 24,944 more than the previous day.
See COVID-19 data for the Central Florida region below:
|County||Cases||New cases||Hospitalizations||New Hospitalizations||Deaths||New deaths|
The Associated Press contributed to this report.