Florida has joined Texas and California as the only states in the Union to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, but its Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, continues to resist calls to impose a statewide lockdown.
DeSantis has gone so far as to mandate that schools be open while mocking those who support a closure of schools as ‘flat-earthers.’
The Department of Health released new data on Tuesday indicating that the Sunshine State reached the grim milestone.
The department said that 8,847 new cases were added to the tally on Tuesday, pushing the total thus far during the pandemic to 1,008,166 cases.
As of Tuesday, 18,679 Floridians have died.
A health care employee works at a COVID-19 testing site in the Crandon Park section of Miami on Saturday. Florida’s Department of Health has reported that the statewide COVID-19 case count has surpassed 1 million
Florida joins Texas and California as the only three states in the country to have more than 1 million COVID-19 cases. Nonetheless, Governor Ron DeSantis (above) has said that he will not move to impose a statewide lockdown
The latest data indicate a surge in the number of hospitalizations but fewer COVID-19 fatalities
Florida officials are also reporting a sharp spike in the number of cases and new tests
Despite the surge in COVID-19 cases, it doesn’t appear that the state government is intent on imposing any sort of strict lockdown.
DeSantis said on Monday that schools will be required to remain open despite the rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, arguing lockdowns and closures have not worked.
The governor also said the state was not considering any further restrictions on businesses that could lead to layoffs or financial loss.
DeSantis said countries like Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland all kept children in schools with positive outcomes, and argued that some studies show the virus can spread more when children don’t go to school because they socialize off campus.
The close ally of President Trump criticized those who are pushing again for closures as cases rise.
‘Closing schools due to coronavirus is probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American history,’ he said at a news conference.
‘People who advocate closing schools for virus mitigation are effectively today’s flat-earthers.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that the spread of the virus among children ‘is not really very big at all’ and is now advising to get children back in the classrooms.
The governor said schools will continue to offer online classes for families who have chosen not to physically return, but school districts will require students who have fallen behind in the virtual mode to go back in person.
‘The virtual learning is not the same as being in person,’ DeSantis said.
The governor acknowledged the rise in cases, but said a surge in other states is more concerning.
He also compared the current COVID-19 hospitalizations at 4,100 to about 10,000 reported in the summer.
‘We’ve seen cases increase but look at all the other states that are seeing them increase way, way more,’ DeSantis said.
‘If you look at the per-capita hospitalizations, we are not even close to the top of the stuff. So I think people should put it in perspective.’
Last week, DeSantis extended an executive order banning local governments from issuing fines against citizens who do not comply with social distancing and mitigation measures like wearing masks.
Daniella Levine Cava, the new mayor of Miami-Dade, announced on Tuesday she has tested positive for COVID-19
‘I’m opposed to mandates period. I don’t think they work,’ the governor said.
‘People in Florida wear (masks) when they go out. They don’t have to be strung up by a bayonet to do it.’
The new mayor of Florida’s most populous county blasted DeSantis for extending the order.
‘Bipartisan governors nationwide are putting mask orders in place as one of the best tools we have to fight #COVID19,’ Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava tweeted.
‘It’s deeply frustrating that @GovRonDeSantis continues to block local actions and make it harder for local leaders to keep our communities safe.’
Levine Cava also announced that she had tested positive for COVID-19.
She said her husband, Dr. Robert Cava, was exposed to COVID-19 by a patient last Wednesday. He has also tested positive.
‘Rob and I are quarantining at home,’ Levine Cava wrote.
‘We both remain in good spirits and have only mild symptoms.’
Spokeswoman Rachel Johnson told the Miami Herald that Levine Cava has not been in contact with county employees since Wednesday and plans to participate in Tuesday’s county commission meeting by phone.
Levine Cava, 65, assumed office on November 17 after being elected earlier in the month.
The Democrat had previously served as a county commissioner since 2014.
Levine Cava’s predecessor, Congressman-elect Carlos Gimenez, tested positive for coronavirus last week.
The Republican is set to assume his new office on January 3.
People wait in line to be tested for COVID-19 in Miami Beach, Florida, on Tuesday
People walk to the Design Miami exhibit in the Moore Building as part of Miami Art Week on Saturday. DeSantis has ruled out state-mandated closures on businesses
California is at tipping point: Gov. Gavin Newsom says a second lockdown is likely and warns the state will run out of ICU beds before Christmas after hospitalizations increased by 89% in two weeks
DeSantis might have a point.
California Governor Gavin Newsom warned on Tuesday that a staggering rise in coronavirus cases could overwhelm the state’s health system within weeks and ‘drastic’ action such as a widespread stay-at-home order may be needed to combat the threat.
Hospitalizations from COVID-19 have increased nearly 90 per cent and could triple by Christmas, officials said Monday.
‘The red flags are flying in terms of the trajectory in our projections of growth,’ Newsom said.
The number of COVID-19 cases reported each day in California has been setting records, with the average daily case rate over the last week topping 14,000.
California Governor Gavin Newsom (pictured) said he may impose tougher restrictions over the next two days, including a possible stay-at-home order, to counter surging COVID-19 hospitalizations that threaten to overwhelm intensive care units before Christmas Eve
‘California’s #COVID19 hospitalizations have increased by 89% in the last two weeks,’ Newsom tweeted on Monday. ‘If these trends continue, our current hospitalizations could increase by 2-3 times within ONE MONTH’
Tents are shown outside of a University of California at San Francisco medical center in San Francisco on Monday
The levels are far above those recorded during a summer peak or even in March, when a state public health order restricted people from going outside except for the most essential reasons.
That order was later eased.
Currently, 51 of 58 counties are in the ‘purple’ tier of the state’s COVID-19 system, meaning they are under the strictest business restrictions. Those counties account for most of the state’s population.
A recently imposed curfew in those counties bars most nonessential work, movement and gatherings but only overnight.
Although he supplied few details, Newsom said that unless the current trends slow, the surge in COVID-19 cases creates the potential for an order that could place further restrictions on businesses and keep the majority of people indoors in the most seriously-affected counties.
Hospitalizations in California have increased 89 per cent over the past 14 days and nearly 7,800 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Monday.
Public health officials warned that people ignoring distance and mask guidelines and gathering for Thanksgiving with non-household relatives could lead to a massive surge in coronavirus cases by Christmas.
California has had nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 19,121 virus-related deaths
About 12 per cent of Californians testing positive are likely to need hospital care within the next two to three weeks.
The biggest concern is intensive care cases, which have increased 67 per cent in the past two weeks.
The state has around 7,700 ICU beds, and currently 75 per cent are occupied. More than 1,800 ICU patients have COVID-19.
If the trend continues, ICU beds would reach 112 per cent of capacity by mid-December.
‘It’s brutal. It’s astoundingly bad. … They’re seriously, seriously bad numbers,’ Dr. George Rutherford, epidemiologist and infectious-diseases control expert at UC San Francisco, told the Los Angeles Times.
California can’t even ship patients to ICU beds out of state ‘because stuff that’s just as bad is going on in Oregon and Nevada and Arizona,’ Rutherford said.
‘We are here on our own, and this is a natural disaster.’
Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous and home to 10 million residents, already imposed its own stay-home order that took effect Monday.
The state reported 7,415 coronavirus hospitalizations on Sunday, citing the most recently available data from the previous day. More than 1,700 of those patients are in intensive care units
The number of hospitalizations broke the state’s previous record of 7,170 in July. The figures are expected to rise in the coming days as similar trends happen nationally
Gov Newsom threatened another stay-at-home order, which would seriously impact restaurants and bars (Eat at Joes diner in Redondo Beach, California)
Visitors to Old Pasadena dine outdoors along Colorado Boulevard on Sunday. Unlike Los Angeles County, Pasadena, with its own health department, is still allowing outdoor patio dining
It banned most gatherings but stopped short of a full shutdown on retail stores and other nonessential businesses.
Santa Clara County is requiring anyone traveling there from more than 150 miles away to quarantine for 14 days.
The county is the largest in the San Francisco Bay Area with about 2 million people, and COVID-19 hospitalizations there have soared to levels not seen since the beginning of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, California on Monday announced help for small businesses suffering financially because of COVID-19 restrictions and lower sales.
With more shutdowns on the horizon and no imminent help from Congress, Newsom and state legislative leaders announced several steps aimed at helping small business owners survive until the federal and state governments can act more broadly early next year.
They include an automatic three-month extension for those reporting less than $1million in sales tax; interest-free payments for companies with up to $5million in sales tax; and $500million in grants of up to $25,000 each available to small businesses.
El Paso mayor says coronavirus surge is due to ‘COVID fatigue’ and contact tracers found 55% of cases in one week came from shopping at big box stores
El Paso’s hospitals have become overwhelmed with a troubling increase in coronavirus patients and deaths, prompting the city to bring in at least 10 mobile morgues earlier this month, pay inmates $2 an hour to carry dead bodies away, and deploy the Texas National Guard to help.
‘About almost six weeks ago, we started spiking significantly. I think people just… the consensus is people just had COVID fatigue and they let down,’ Mayor Dee Margo said on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday.
Mayor Dee Margo of El Paso, Texas says his city’s surge in coronavirus cases is due to ‘COVID fatigue’. ‘About almost six weeks ago, we started spiking significantly. I think people just… the consensus is people just had COVID fatigue and they let down,’ Margo said on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday
He said contact tracers have found that 55 percent of positive cases came from shopping at big box stores for the week of November 10 to 16. A view of a shopper at Academy Sports and Outdoors in El Paso on Black Friday above
Jacqueline Fuentes and her brother Michael Fuentes pictured purchasing a sound bar from Best Buy on Black Friday in El Paso, Texas. As a result Margo said he asked big stores like Walmart to enact ‘voluntary limitations’ to lower occupancy in the stores to prevent further spread of COVID-19
A view of a Costco store in El Paso, Texas on November 18 above. Residents have been urged to stay home except for essential trips due to the staggering surge of cases and deaths in the state that prompted the border town to bring in 10 mobile morgues to handle the pile-up of bodies
‘As Dr. [Deborah] Birx said, you got to wear the mask and you’ve got to maintain the distancing and you’ve got to avoid crowds,’ he added.
El Paso has recorded more than 86,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 920 deaths with a seven day rolling average positivity rate of 13.59 percent.
On Monday 461 new COVID-19 cases were reported and one new death. There are 905 people currently hospitalized with 317 patients in the ICU and 214 patients on ventilators.
In Texas, more than one million people have tested positive for the virus and more than 21,000 have died.
Margo revealed that contact tracers have connected a wave of positive infections from big box stores.
‘We did a deep dive in our contact tracing for the week of November the 10th through the 16th and found that 55 percent of the positives were coming from shopping at large retailers, what we’d term as the big box stores,’ Margo said.
‘And those are considered essential under CISA guidelines under Homeland Security. And we don’t really have – I don’t have any control over any limitations there,’ he said.
There are 905 people currently hospitalized with 317 patients in the ICU and 214 patients on ventilators
El Paso has recorded more than 86,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 920 deaths with a seven day rolling average positivity rate of 13.59 percent, as of Monday. On Monday 461 new COVID-19 cases were reported and one new death
El Paso County detention inmates pictured helping moving bodies to refrigerated trailers outside the Medical Examiner’s Office on November 14. The mobile morgues were brought in to help with the surge of coronavirus deaths in the state
As a result Margo said he asked big stores like Walmart to enact ‘voluntary limitations’ to lower occupancy in the stores.
Nearly one month ago the El Paso area reached capacity at hospitals and additional medics and the National Guard was deployed to aid in the situation.
Today is still under a strain.
‘Right now in the hospital — the latest numbers I have on our hospitalization is we are at 79 percent of our hospitalization capacity, which gives us 21 percent excess of which we didn’t have – we haven’t had in some time,’ he said.
He said that the crisis seems like it’s started to plateau, but infections are started to impact an older age group.
‘We also dug up the fact that previously – over 52 percent of our positives were coming in the ages of 20 to 39. Now it’s 30 to 50.
The El Paso Sheriff’s Office said that the city began to use inmates on November 9 on a volunteer basis to help move the dead into morgues. By November 16 there were at least 10 mobile morgues in the city
County officials said the inmates were paid $2 an hour and were tested and provided with PPE by the Medical Examiner’s office and would face a two-week quarantine once the program was over
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said the inmates were only used temporarily until the Texas National Guard came in as a last resort. A view of a low-level inmate helping load bodies wrapped in plastic into a refrigerated temporary morgue trailer in a parking lot at the El Paso County Medical Examiner’s office on November 17
A view of El Paso County detention inmates helping move bodies to the mobile morgues outside the Medical Examiner’s Office on November 14 above
So we’re just trying to maintain, but recently, and I’m – I’m fearful to even mention it, we’ve started to seem like we’re starting to maybe plateau,’ he said.
However, the holidays may impact that.
‘On Thanksgiving Day, we had 406 positives. The next day was 678,’ Margo said.
Earlier this month hospitals in the El Paso area were looking dire.
The El Paso Sheriff’s Office said that the city began to use inmates on November 9 on a volunteer basis to help move the dead into morgues.
County officials said the inmates were paid $2 an hour and were tested and provided with PPE by the medical examiner’s office and would face a two-week quarantine once the program was over.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said the inmates were only used temporarily until the Texas National Guard came in as a last resort.
‘If there’s no personnel, no one to help out, and there’s volunteers, even if they are inmates, then that’s what we’re left with,’ he told KFOX14.
‘It was just a temporary focus, and we’re waiting for the Texas National Guard to help us out with that.’
On Thanksgiving eve El Paso initiated a new curfew running from 10pm to 5am through Monday November 30.
‘We need to do everything possible to avoid the perfect storm. I will use every tool that I have such as issuing a curfew to slow the spread of this virus. We’re now cautiously anticipating the outcome of Thanksgiving. Black Friday, Christmas, New Year’s, and the terrifying effects of the flu season,’ Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced last Tuesday.
Last week Samaniego encouraged big box stores to distribute their Black Friday sales throughout the day to avoid amassing large crowds that can’t social distance. He also urged locals against gathering for the shopping event and urged them to stay home except for essential needs.
Nationally more than 13.6 million coronavirus cases have been reported and more than 269,660 deaths.