Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ends many of the state’s covid restrictions
Just as Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida lifted all covid restrictions, the CDC reported that community transmission in the state remained high.
Just as Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida lifted all covid restrictions in the Sunshine State, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that community transmission in the state remained high. Additionally, all of the most common variants of covid-19 have been found in the state, and the test positivity rate stands at around 8.1%, above the 5% threshold advocated by public health experts.
What actions has the government taken?
On 3 May, Governor DeSantis signed a series of bills and executive orders into law. The first was a bill passed by the Flordia legislature, placed a state-wide ban on vaccine passports, weakened the ability of local jurisdictions to establish lockdowns, and allocated funding to prepare for future pandemics.
The governor applauded his colleagues in the state legislature for the passage of the new bill saying that it helped protect Florida residents’ right to choose if vaccination is right for them as it forbids businesses or government entities from denying service based on vaccination status.
Additionally, Gov. DeSantis signed two Executive Orders, which suspend all “local all local emergency orders until July 1, 2021, at which point local orders will be permanently invalidated.”
Some local officials, including Miami mayor Daniella Levine Cava, voiced their disagreement with the governor’s decisions. Mayor Levine Cava responded on Twitter posting, “I’m deeply concerned by the Governor's decision today. We are still in a public health emergency, and our economy has yet to fully rebound from this crisis. Fewer than half of our residents have been vaccinated, and we still face a growing threat from new variants.”
Late last month Gov. DeSantis also reinstated the job search requirements that unemployed people must comply with in order to receive their benefits. These requirements had been waived since the beginning of the pandemic, but the administration believes that with the economy on the rebound there are plenty of openings for those on unemployment to begin applying to.
Vaccination campaign ongoing
Florida has vaccinated approximately seventy percent of residents over sixty-five, leaving nearly a third susceptible to the virus’s deadly effects. Overall, around thirty percent of the adult population is vaccinated, and reports have shown that vaccine appointments are being left open across some of the state’s most populous areas.
From 20-26 April, Florida administered a little over 1 million shots. Over the last seven days, that number has dropped to 688,119 shots. The demand for vaccines is decreasing at an alarming rate. With the restrictions being lifted, community transmission at high levels, public health experts are concerned that the state could experience another wave of infections.
Overall, the data shows that cases and hospitalizations are decreasing in the state. Case levels are nowhere near their highest peak, which occurred in January 2021, when more than 30,000 cases were confirmed on a single day. The level of new cases has plateaued at around 5,000 each day and hospitalizations are currently down 2.1%.
In the coming weeks, the data will show a clearer picture of how the governor’s actions will impact transmission in the state. Until then, public officials are working to increase awareness about vaccination, hoping that if more Floridanas get their shots, the better prepared the state will be to avert another wave of infection.