Florida in spotlight as coronavirus rages

Florida has become the epicenter for COVID-19 cases. Photo courtesy Getty Images

The Sunshine State has a new moniker — Epicenter of the Coronavirus.

Last week, Florida broke the country’s record for new daily coronavirus cases, surpassing New York. As of Wednesday, there have been more than 300,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, with more than 10,000 cases added that day.

This marks the sixth time in the most recent week that the number of new coronavirus cases has grown over 10,000.

Face masks have been unfavorable in parts of Florida where lawsuits have come into play and anti-mask protests have sparked. Individuals feel these requirements come between their personal freedoms, disregarding the health of others.

On Saturday, anti-mask groups came together at an Orlando restaurant and bar and offered free meals to over 100 supporters who dined without a face mask. The event was sponsored by ReOpen Florida, a group that has been active in protesting coronavirus restrictions.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has encouraged mask use and physical distancing, but he has not issued a statewide mask mandate.

Wednesday, DeSantis spoke at a pressconference at the Capitolin Tallahassee on the status of Florida and how the state plans to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are seeing some other positive trends on some of the ER visits declining for COVID. But we have a lot of work to do and I have no doubt that we’ll be able to do it and it is going to be done by having a steady resolve, not being fearful, but understanding what’s out there and what we need to do,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis announced earlier this month he wants Florida’s public school districts to reopen this fall. Despite the rise in cases, Disney World has reopened this week. Universal Studios reopened at the beginning of June.

“The theme parks are doing great,” DeSantis said on Monday. “When you have all the different procedures they have in place, it’s a safe environment.”

The Florida Health Department experts caution that older communities are still at risk even if younger people are driving infection rates right now. The Florida Health Department says, “The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.”

As numbers rise, the Florida Health Department actively updates its website with reported cases and deaths due to COVID-19 on a county-by-county basis.

Hope Stephens, 33, is a registered nurse in West Palm Beach. Staying fully staffed has been a challenge, she said.

“The biggest obstacle throughout COVID-19 has been the shortage of staff as the disease continues to explode in South Florida we as health-care workers are scared and tired,” she said. “I advise everyone to wash their hands, wear their mask and truly social distance,” she added.