The number of coronavirus cases in Florida has reached 390 as of Thursday, March 19, according to the Florida Department of Health. So far, eight people have died as a result of the disease in the state.
The majority of these cases are concentrated in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, where there have been 86 and 96 cases, respectively. The surrounding counties of Palm Beach and Collier are showing a moderate number of cases — with 29 and 18 respectively — while Monroe and Hendry Counties are currently showing no reported cases.
Outside of South Florida, Hillsborough County, has the next highest level of reported cases, with 19. Duval County, home to Jacksonville, and Orange County, Orlando’s county, both have 15 known cases. Pinellas County is close behind, reporting 14 cases. There are currently 36 counties in Florida — mostly in north Florida near the panhandle and around the Everglades — where no cases have been reported as of Thursday morning.
Gov. DeSantis Has Ordered The Closure Of All Bars & Nightclubs While Restaurants Were Given New Guidelines
On Wednesday, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, gave a press conference to reassure Floridians concerned about the coronavirus spread in the state and to discuss the various methods the state was employing to combat the outbreak. Among those directives, he ordered the closure of all bars and nightclubs across the state for 30 days, citing the crowds those places draw and how they would go against the practice of social distancing should they remain open.
He also told viewers he has ordered “half-a-million” swabs to test for the coronavirus “about a week and a half ago,” so the state could implement drive-through testing centers. However, he said he had “not gotten that fulfilled yet,” as reported by WPTV.
While the governor did discuss the closing of certain businesses and has declared a state of emergency, he did not order the closing of any child care centers in the state. As they are considered private institutions, they take direction from the Florida Department of Health and can only close under an order from the state. DeSantis stated that, while schools are closed through April 15, he believed closing the child care centers would “create a huge amount of issues.”
He has also received some pushback from other officials by not ordering all beaches to close. But although there is no state directive to close them, some mayors have taken it upon themselves to shutter their shores.
Beaches Are Begining To Close Amid Virus Concerns
On Wednesday, Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez of Miami issued an executive order that will close all public beaches in Miami-Dade County and will “restrict or close non-essential businesses and other recreational and entertainment activities,” according to NBC Miami. The order will take effect Thursday evening and covers all public beaches, parks, “non-essential retail,” casinos, and “recreational and entertainment activities.” It will not force private beaches to close, and the mayor said it is “at the discretion of the owners” if they want to remain open.
Gimenez has also ordered the closing of community centers that serve seniors, libraries, movie theaters, gyms, concert venues, arcades, bowling alleys, and playhouses. Bars and clubs were also ordered to be closed and restaurants can only be open for takeout or delivery services. Finally, he prohibited any gatherings of more than 10 people in a public place or facility owned or operated by the county.
Brevard County has followed suit, closing all beachside public parking, which essentially shuts the beach to any visitors. The closings began on Wednesday, March 18, and are expected to be completed by Friday. Volusia County, on the other hand, did not close its beaches. Restrictions are in place, however, and gatherings of larger than 10 people are strongly discouraged. Additionally, groups must keep at least six feet away from each other.
“I think closing the beaches would be a bad precedent. But I think there are things that we can do,” Volusia County Council member Ben Johnson said, via WESH2.
These closures come as the state is ramping up its coronavirus response. Already, large establishments — like Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort — have closed for at least two weeks.