What the Heck Is Going On in Florida? Part 2

We saw it coming

Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog
4 min readJul 13, 2020

--

Credit: NurPhoto / Getty Images

Almost two months ago, I wrote a story for the Medium Coronavirus Blog titled: “What the Heck Is Going on in Florida?” At the time, the state had just become one of the first to fully reopen. As Governor Ron DeSantis cited decreasing numbers of positive cases and deaths to justify reopening, critics called the accuracy of the state’s data into question. A Department of Health scientist was fired, and she revealed that she had been pressured to manipulate the data to support DeSantis’ reopening plan. All the while, public health officials repeatedly warned that it was too early to reopen, but Florida’s bars, beaches, and nightclubs were soon packed to the brim. In short, it was a hot mess.

Fast forward to the present. Last night, Florida’s DOH reported 15,300 new positive cases — a record for the highest number of new cases reported on a single day by any state since the beginning of the pandemic. If you counted Florida as a country, it would be fourth on the list of countries with the highest number of new cases per day, after the United States, Brazil, and India, Reuters reported. The state averaged 73 deaths per day last week, and a total of 4,346 people have died from Covid-19 there since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Florida’s Disney World, home to the increasingly fraught NBA “bubble,” reopened on Saturday. (In contrast, Hong Kong Disneyland, which reopened June 18, has just announced it is re-closing on July 15 due to a rise in cases.) DeSantis maintains that schools in the state “absolutely can” and will reopen for five days a week next month, regardless of research increasingly showing that children can spread the coronavirus. Unlike many other state governors, DeSantis has not made mask-wearing mandatory and has asked local authorities to come up with their own masking rules. The Republican National Convention is still on track to take place in Jacksonville next month, even though a surge of positive cases in Tulsa was tied to President Trump’s rally there in June.

Testing has increased in Florida, but experts say the uptick in new cases outstrips the uptick in tests, meaning that the rising number of new positive cases is not due to increased testing alone. Meanwhile, the state’s labs are…

--

--

Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog. Senior editor at Future Human by OneZero. Previously: science at Inverse, genetics at NYU.