1 million coronavirus cases since pandemic began


At Least 250,000 Americans Have Died From COVID-19


Florida became the third state to exceed 1 million cases on Tuesday and continued to get closer to a coronavirus death toll of 20,000.

But Gov. Ron DeSantis remained steadfast in his opposition to a statewide mandatory mask order or any return to lockdowns of businesses, including bars and restaurants.

“Yes, we are seeing increases, but other states are seeing even more,” DeSantis said Monday during a news conference in Kissimmee with Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. It was his first live news conference in a month.

DeSantis reiterated his opposition to mask mandates and lockdowns on CNN Tuesday morning, the same day it was reported that Florida added 8,847 new cases Monday for a total of 1,008,166, making it the third state to exceed 1 million cases, after California and Texas. Its death toll among residents increased by 82, bringing that total to 18,679.

Among all states, Florida has the third-highest number of cases, the third-highest amount of testing and the fourth-highest number of deaths in the U.S. 

More: Coronavirus by state: Texas, California and Florida surpass 1 million cases


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Every state except Hawaii is in the red zone, according to a weekly White House task force report, meaning they are experiencing 101 or more new cases per 100,000 people. Florida has averaged more than 7,700 new cases per day in the past two weeks, a increase of 315 over daily numbers two weeks ago.

As of Tuesday, there were more than 13.5 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than 268,000 deaths related to the respiratory disease, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center’s website.

Just before Thanksgiving, DeSantis extended an executive order from Sept. 25 that signaled Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. The order prohibits local governments from collecting fines under local mask ordinances and prevents them from forcing restaurants and bars to operate below 50% capacity.

“Floridians should not be prohibited by local governments from working or operating a business,” DeSantis said of his extension order of Nov. 24. He also said he is opposed to mask mandates, opting for people to make their own decisions about preventative actions.

“They don’t work,” he said of mandates. “People wear them when they go out, but they don’t have to be strung up on a bayonet.”

A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proves that wearing face masks in public reduces the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Kansas approved a statewide mask mandate that began on July 3, allowing counties to opt out. Counties that implemented the mandate saw a 6% decrease in the rate of new cases per 100,000 people, while the counties that opted out saw a 100% increase in the rate of new cases per 100,000.

“Kansas counties that had mask mandates in place appear to have mitigated the transmission of COVID-19, whereas counties that did not have mask mandates continued to experience increases in cases,” the report said.

US coronavirus map: Tracking the outbreak across the nation

More: Experts caution erratic COVID-19 data over long holiday could be misinterpreted

COVID-19 vaccines in Florida

DeSantis said he has been focused on getting vaccines and newly approved therapeutic medicines to Florida, making frequent trips to Washington to speak with the nation’s top health officials.

Florida could get from 1 million to 2 million doses in the first distribution of vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which are waiting on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to grant them emergency-use authorizations.

Vaccine distribution: ‘Solid plan’ in place for Florida; first doses going to hospitals

If approved, as many as 40 million doses could be available for nationwide distribution in a matter of weeks. But those vaccines require a second shot as a booster, which means there is only enough available for 20 million people.

A CDC advisory panel was meeting Tuesday afternoon to decide who will get the first doses, most likely to be health care workers treating patients with COVID-19 and nursing home residents, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Preliminary plans call for vaccinating health care workers, first responders and nursing home patients and staff first. State governors and their team of advisers will decide for themselves how those limited doses will be distributed.

Operation Warp Speed Director Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski said by the end of June, all Americans who want to be vaccinated will be able to get one.

Hospitalizations have risen dramatically since Gov. DeSantis allowed businesses to fully reopen Sept. 25.

The order said restaurants and bars cannot be forced by local ordinance to operate at less than 50% capacity and any orders requiring them to operate at less than 100% must explain why the limit is necessary for the public health and “quantify the economic impact of each limitation or requirement on those restaurants.”

On Sunday, hospitalizations hit 4,059, the highest number of COVID-19 patients in hospital beds since Aug. 28, when 4,003 COVID patients were reported to the Florida Department of Health. As of Monday, the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 grew to 4,159, according to the COVID Tracking Project at the Atlantic. 

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, the number of patients in Florida hospitalized with COVID-19 rose to 4,279, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.

DeSantis acknowledged the increase, but said it is “fewer than the summer when we had 10,000 COVID-positive patients” in Florida’s hospitals.

“I think people should put that in perspective,” he said. Noting a large drop-off of seasonal influenza cases, he added, “Hospitals have an abundance of capacity.”

In Dr. Fauci’s words:Why Americans shouldn’t fear a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the FDA

Contact Jeff Schweers at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.

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