Gov. Ron DeSantis says reopening Florida helped the state rebound from coronavirus, while accusing liberal governors and states run by Democrats of being ‘invested in lockdowns’ that are not supported by science.
DeSantis announced Monday that the state will lower the age for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility from 65 to 60 beginning next week.
Meanwhile, college students partied on the beaches largely without masks meant to prevent the spread of the virus during the annual spring break from classes, which normally runs from late February to mid-April.
The Florida Department of Health said the number of known COVID-19 cases in the state rose by 3,312 Monday, bringing the case count to more than 1.94 million.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says reopening the state has helped with a rebound from coronavirus, as college students from around the country descend on Florida for the annual spring break ritual with little social distancing or mask wearing in sight
People enter Shiloh Baptist Church to receive a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on March 7 in Orlando, Fla.
The event at Shiloh Baptist Church was a one-day outreach to the Black community in the Parramore neighborhood of Orlando, which organizers hoped would result in 600 vaccines for area residents
The age change for vaccine eligibility is expected to take effect March 15, WJXT in Jacksonville reported.
‘That will apply across the board at all of the state pods, all of the pharmacies, all of the different drive-thru sites that are being operated,’ DeSantis said. ‘If you’re 60 plus, you will be able to get sign up and be able to get the vaccine.
The age change came as demand for vaccinations from older residents has decreased and the federal sites to receive vaccine doses throughout Florida experience reduced turnout among eligible people.
‘I do think that this is the right time to do it. We’re starting to see the demand soften,’ DeSantis said.
The Republican, who took office in January 2019, discussed his approach to the coronavirus pandemic and how well he believes vaccine distribution is working in the state during an interview with ‘Fox & Friends’ Monday, Fox News reported.
DeSantis said that if lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus were effective, the number of coronavirus cases in Florida would be significantly worse than in New York.
He added that New York has nearly double the per capita mortality of Florida among those stricken with COVID-19.
‘I think that these guys are invested in lockdowns – I get that, the facts don’t support it,’ DeSantis said. ‘Look, if the lockdowns worked then Florida would be way worse than New York and these other states.’
Kim Campbell, a student at the University of Louisville, left, joins friends at Clearwater Beach on March 2. Clearwater, Fla., near Tampa, is a popular spring break destination
The sidewalk and roads were crowded near the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on March 4. College students are in the South Florida area for the annual spring break ritual. City officials have advised people to wear masks if they cannot social distance.
Spring breakers flock to South Beach in Miami on Saturday
People gather on a beach in Miami on Friday. Even with some colleges canceling their mid-semester breaks, students from more than 200 schools are expected to visit Miami Beach during spring break
Large crowds were drawn to outdoor venues along Miami Beach on Saturday
Beachgoers in Miami on Saturday
Restaurants in Florida are ‘thriving,’ while other states are not allowing restaurants to operate at full capacity, DeSantis said.
People in the state ‘really, really appreciate the way Florida’s approached [the pandemic],’ DeSantis said.
‘Our kids are in school. Parents are happy with that. Our economy is growing. People are working. And they were predicting economic doom, particularly for Florida, because we’re a tourism base and our tourism isn’t bad by any stretch,’ he said.
A graphic from the Florida Department of Health show the number of new cases by day, top, and deaths by day, bottom
Florida Department of Health data shows the numbers of people tested for the coronavirus in the last two weeks, as well as the percentage of Florida residents with positive test results
The number of Floridians hospitalized as of Monday for a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 was 3,332, with the state reporting that 81,015 people were hospitalized for treatment at some point, Fox 13 News in Tampa reported.
The number of Florida resident deaths reached 31,764 Monday, an increase of 81 since Sunday, while 585 non-Floridians have died in the state from the virus.
‘You know, a lot of things are happening simultaneously. You have the variant down here, and we still are having sometimes dozens of deaths a day in our county.
‘And at the same time, we’ve got incredibly cheap round-trip tickets for 40 bucks from anywhere in the Northeast down here, discounted rooms and people who have been really pent up and wanting to get out with no other place to go than here.
DeSantis said Florida plans to lower the eligibility age for a coronavirus vaccine from 65 to 60 next week
People sit in the observation area after receiving a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Shiloh Baptists Church in Orlando on March 7
‘So we are very worried that there’s going to be a convergence of people here and a real problem in the aftermath of that.’
On Sunday, a total of 40,340 new infections were reported nationally, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which is a 28 percent decline from the 56,044 cases recorded just two weeks ago.
This is the lowest figure seen since October 5.
What’s more, the seven-day rolling average of new cases currently sits at 59,479, a 12 percent decline from the average 14 days earlier, a DailyMail.com analysis shows.
New coronavirus cases in the U.S. also rose at their slowest since the pandemic began nearly one year ago.
By averaging the percentage of daily new cases changes, DailyMail.com found cases rose at an average of 1.1 percent, the smallest percentage gain since January 2020.
In addition, just 669 fatalities were reported on Sunday, the second time since 2021 began that deaths have fallen under 1,000.
It’s also the lowest number recorded since November 15.