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Covid-19 direction unclear for FL residents

Siddie Friar, Reporter

Jacksonville, Fla. – While there are still many mysteries about the Covid-19 virus, what we do know is that statewide responses have been confusing, often contradictory and the published test results are misleading, at best. 

Florida has faced ‘record daily highs’ of new infection rates for the last week. State level leadership has been faced with epic failures of social safety nets across the country, and heavily armed protesters demanding haircuts. Government officials caved in and many began reopening their states in an attempt to ‘save the economy.’ 

Despite reports of cases rising, Jacksonville and much of Florida, began to ‘reopen’ at the end of April. Governor Ron Desantis outlined a ‘Phased Reopening Plan’ which included impressive presentations and outlined benchmarks required to move through the phases. Benchmarks included a reduction in new cases and adequate facilities open to treat possible outbreaks.

Florida has not met national benchmarks to reopen safely, and the Governors ‘phase one’ seems to be melding into ‘phase two’ without meeting his own benchmark requirements. 

On Friday, Florida reported 3,819 new cases, with a running total of 97,346. For Duval specifically there were 175 new cases Friday with a running total of 2,704. As of June 17, more than 100,000 people in the United States have died from the virus. If the current rate of acceleration holds, projections say the virus will claim 200,000 lives, or more by October. 

Florida has now been open a little over two weeks and there is no slow down of new cases in sight. Some have tried to point to additional testing as the reason for the uptick, while DeSantis blames migrant farm workers with no real evidence this is the case. Meanwhile cases of groups of friends getting infected by going out to Jacksonville bars has made national headlines as Florida is poised to become the new ‘epicenter’ for infections. 

Even if you don’t express symptoms you could be a carrier of the virus, wearing a mask is to help protect other people. 

According to a CBS report “at least 19 states have seen new COVID-19 cases go up in the last two weeks, and six states on Tuesday reported record-high single-day jumps in new cases.”

The U.S. leading expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has noted that people keep talking about a ‘second wave.’ He says this is not accurate, that we are still in the first wave of infections. 

On top of all this, the official state numbers for Florida are at odds with other sources. Take for instance the Covid Dashboard published by data scientist Rebekah Jones, as compared to the official Florida Department of Health Dashboard. Between these two sources there is a discrepancy in total reported cases of almost 4,000. The state website does not offer daily case reports while the independent dashboard does. At the time of this writing the daily case amount was 3,819.

You may recognize Jones’ name. She was fired from the DOH in May for, in her words, ‘being unwilling to manipulate the covid numbers to favor the states reopening plan.’

Whether or not her allegations are true, Jones is not the only one who has expressed concern around how the state presents its data. 

FSCJ data scientist, Christopher Perle, also thinks the way the state is presenting data is misleading and worries it may be a deliberate move to support the opening of the state. 

While the president is in the camp which alleges that cases are up due to more testing, at an interview on Tuesday Fauci said the increase in cases ‘can’t be explained by an increase in testing.’  

In the time that Jacksonville bars have been reopened several of them have ‘voluntarily closed’ to perform cleaning and ensure employees can get tested after reports have surfaced of patrons testing positive. 

Meanwhile Mayor Lenny Curry is in the thick of bringing a ‘full-fledged’ Republican National Convention to town. He says that the event will be ‘safe and adhere to CDC guidelines,’ but at the same time by the states own guidelines a convention of this size wouldn’t be advisable until Phase 3 of reopening and even then it would have to be at 50 percent capacity. 

It is evident that the organizers intend for this to be a packed event. Attendees are required to sign a waiver releasing all parties from any liability should they become ill after attending the event. 

We are not out of the woods with Covid and without strong national or state leadership many are left to make their own decisions around how to handle the crisis. Politico.com compiled a good list of running local orders for Florida counties for your reference.

At the very least donning a mask while in public seems like a good call and is something that is accessible for most, continuing to keep your outings to necessity only and avoiding large gatherings are also well advised. 

The World Health Organization outlined some updates for mask wearing in a statement earlier this month. In the statement, given by WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, he emphasized “I cannot say this clearly enough: masks alone will not protect you from COVID-19. Masks are not a replacement for physical distancing, hand hygiene and other public health measures. Masks are only of benefit as part of a comprehensive approach in the fight against COVID-19.”


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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