Close to one-third of all coronavirus cases in the state of Florida since the start of the pandemic have come in just the last week, with the state nearing 10,000 new cases on Saturday alone.
As the New York Post noted, the state hit a new one-day high on Saturday with 9,585 reported cases, breaking the record that had been set just one day before, with 8,942 total cases. After being among one of the last states to mandate social distancing and require public places to close — and then becoming one of the first to begin reopening as well — the Sunshine State has seen a dramatic spike in cases over the last week.
“In just over a week, Florida has reported nearly 40,000 new cases, which accounts for about a third of all the confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic began,” the Miami Herald noted.
The report added that Florida has started to roll back some of the openings that took place several weeks ago, suspending alcohol consumption at bars. Many local governments have gone a step further, with Miami-Dade County announcing that beaches would be closed and Fourth of July parades would be canceled.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has come under criticism for his response to the health crisis, with critics saying he has been too lax in mandating closures and other actions that could slow the spread of the virus. On Friday, he said he would not make a statewide mandate to wear masks, as many other state and local governments have done.
While the state’s department of health has issued an advisement to Floridians to wear face coverings and maintain 6 feet of distance in public, DeSantis said he believed a mandate to wear masks would be counterproductive and difficult to enforce.
“We’ve advised that’s something that could make an impact,” DeSantis said, via the Miami Herald. “At the same time, to do police and put criminal penalties on that is something that probably would backfire.”
As the Miami Herald’s report noted, Florida started to see a sharp rise in cases in mid-June, close to two weeks after the state entered its second phase of reopening that allowed bars, movie theaters, and gyms to operate at 30 percent capacity. DeSantis said the rise in infections among young people in the state were tied largely to protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, and the willingness of younger people to get together without social distancing.