As other jurisdictions play with reinstating public health restrictions in response to increasing COVID-19 cases, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) says his state will not enter another round of blockages and mask warrants.
“If someone asks for closures, you don’t do it in Florida. I will protect people’s livelihoods. I will protect the right of children to go to school. I will protect the right of people to run their small businesses, ”DeSantis said at a press conference in Fort Pierce, Florida yesterday.“ We have three vaccines that have been widely available for months and months now. People have to decide what is right for them. “
In Florida, just like across the country, cases of COVID-19 are increasing thanks to the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus. The state’s cases have almost increased eightfold since early July. About one in four new COVID infections occur in Florida, reports show The hill.
There has been a significant increase in hospitalizations in the state, The New York Times reported today. Some 70 percent of inpatient hospital beds are occupied in the state, according to a dashboard from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nonetheless, Covid deaths have increased much less dramatically. The 7-day average of deaths in the state was 34 yesterday, up from 30 in early July. COVID deaths have fallen by 94% since December, reports the Miami Herald.
“These vaccines save lives. They reduce mortality,” DeSantis said earlier this week.
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC segment yesterday that this current wave of cases would continue to increase until the end of August and then likely subside.
Florida has been essentially free from Covid restrictions since May. That month, DeSantis issued an executive order suspending all local states of emergency. He also signed a bill that requires local emergency ordinances to be “narrowly tailored” to serve a “compelling public health or safety objective.” This bill also limited the number of days that a local emergency ordinance could be extended, and it made it easier for the state legislature to overturn the governor’s emergency policies at the government level. State.
DeSantis also pardoned those convicted of violating Covid restrictions and waived any fines they were expected to pay.
Florida stands in contrast to states like California, which did not officially abandon most of its pandemic regulations, including capacity limits for businesses and offices, until June 15. The rise in COVID cases has prompted Los Angeles County to reinstate its mask mandate, even for those vaccinated, and still threaten new restrictions. Other counties in California have simply recommended that people, regardless of their immunization status, put on their masks.
Reimposing restrictions on vaccines, especially when deaths are at their lowest since the start of the pandemic, could actually be counterproductive to public health.
“For healthy young residents who understand that they face little personal risk from COVID-19, the freedom to avoid masks can be one of the most appealing aspects of immunization,” wrote Raisonby Jacob Sullum last week. “So far, 61% of Los Angeles County residents aged 16 or older are fully immunized, and this mask rule doesn’t seem like a good strategy to increase that number.”
At least in Florida, policymakers resist the urge to create this deterrent.