Florida had a record death toll on Wednesday, with 60 new deaths reported. The state now has 28,832 cases and 960 fatalities. This morning, over half of that number has been reported at 33, on pace to be the most deadly day for Florida residents.
In a press conference yesterday, Desantis praised Orange County, saying coronavirus numbers were declining and much lower than expected.
“Orange County with the theme parks?” DeSantis said. “Just think of how many people came through there in January through March … All those people from all over the world going there. And you have a situation where it’s down to 24 new cases today, 13 the day before. Orange County has 75 total COVID hospitalizations. Central Florida, Orange County, they’ve done a really good job.”
DeSantis again pointed out that the state had “flattened the curve” , noting that reality is far different from the scenario predicted by some models weeks ago. Speaking to a working group focused on agriculture and healthcare, the governor said Florida had significantly less hospitalizations per capita and deaths per capita than states in the Northeast.
“I can tell you, there were a lot of dire predictions made. People were talking about Florida being the next Italy or New York,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also criticized people who criticized Jacksonville’s decision to reopen its beaches, which led to large numbers of people heading to the beaches on the first day and the Twitter hashtag, “#FloridaMorons.”
He said Jacksonville’s coronavirus numbers were much less than in New York and New Jersey, adding, “I would stand with you over the folks critical of you any day of the week.”
DeSantis said that most coronavirus transmissions occurred in the home and said “being outdoors and in the sunshine” in Florida “was a better environment to be in.”
Data updated Wednesday now show Florida’s projected fatalities will be 1,620 by June 8, with an estimated range of 999 to 3,381. Florida’s projected death total had been consistently falling with each update, assuming social distancing continues until infections are minimized. The projections come from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which the Trump administration has used in crafting its pandemic response.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 76 percent of Florida voters said the state’s economy should reopen only when public health officials declare it safe, compared with 17 percent who said it should reopen even if public health officials warned against it.
A similar online Facebook poll by The Space Coast Rocket showed almost identical results.
Locally, in a Facebook post by Brevard County Clerk of Courts Scott Ellis, he shared a position held by Melbourne Deputy Mayor Paul Alfrey on opening businesses.
Local elected officials are split on the correct approach for Brevard County. State Representative Randy Fine has turned his campaign Facebook page for reelection into an information conduit for those seeking updates and resources. Within a month his following has doubled form 10k to 20k as he pushes the seriousness of the virus often referencing worst case scenarios from prediction models.
Brevard County Commissioner Chair Bryan Lober who initially downplayed the seriousness of the virus, saying it was nothing more than the common flu, and not remotely as bad as a category 5 hurricane has since changed his position. He found himself on the minority side of several 4-1 votes by the County Commission critical of his handling of his duties as the Chair of the Policy Group who is charged with making decisions during a declared emergency. Lober was asked to resign from his duties on the Policy Group and was replaced by County Commissioner Rita Pritchett.
Officials on the other side emphasize getting the public back out of the house. Sheriff Wayne Ivey held a drive-thru parade of first responders in 4 different locations. Video showed deputies handing out stickers to children with no gloves or masks. Now it is believed that several of those responders who participated have tested positive for the virus.
Officials struggle with decisions on balancing safety and the economy in the handling of this virus. Domestic violence crimes have risen as have theft from vehicles parked in driveways. Local beaches like Satellite and Cocoa Beach have eased their restrictions whiles others remain limited to specific activities.
As promised resources from State and Federal governments have yet to arrive for over 90% of the people, bills continue to add up with no source of income for most. People filing for unemployment in Florida ballooned by more than 500,000 people last week, almost three times as many as the week before.
In a post by Randy Fine, he claims that the current backlog of unemployment claims would not be cleared for over 2 months at the current rate. Fine who has been hesitant to be critical of the governor states this is unacceptable.