Confronted by yet another record day of new coronavirus infections, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday said the state would begin cracking down on restaurants and bars that don’t follow guidelines limiting the number of people inside the establishments but stood by his decision not to mandate that people wear masks.
Florida added more than 4,000 new cases during a 24-hour period that ended Saturday morning, bringing the total to nearly 93,800, a more than 49 percent increase in the past two weeks as most of the state entered the second phase of an economic reopening plan that included allowing bars to operate and restaurants to serve more customers.
DeSantis, in a rare Saturday afternoon news conference, again defended his decisions in reopening the economy, saying that many of the new cases were showing up among young people who are more likely asymptomatic and will not require extensive health-care services if they do get sick. Younger people also are less likely to die from the virus than seniors.
DeSantis urged people to wear masks if they could not distance themselves from others but repeated his opposition to imposing a statewide mandate, even as large cities like Miami, Orlando and Tampa have put mask-wearing requirements in place.
“I have not preempted locals,” DeSantis said. “But at the same time, you have to enforce that. I think statewide penalties would be problematic."
Still, the governor acknowledged that the positive test rate was increasing, a sign of what is known as community spread of the virus, and that the increase could pose threats to older residents who are more in jeopardy of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.“Certainly a cause for concern,” DeSantis said of the rising numbers of cases. “But our cases are shifting in a radical direction younger.”
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