TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Mask mandates, social distancing guidelines, and any other coronavirus-related rules will not be allowed in Florida after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order ending any COVID-19 restrictions.
“I think people who are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you are saying that, you really are saying you don’t believe in the vaccines. You don’t believe in the data. You don’t believe in the science. We have embraced the vaccine and embraced the science,” said DeSantis.
The governor also signed a bill banning vaccine passports, a measure that recently passed the Florida legislature.
Several Florida counties had mask mandates, but that was before DeSantis’ executive order on Monday wiped them out.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman called the governor’s decision “dangerous.”
“If he is suspending all of our orders immediately, then you are going to be able to go into a restaurant, and you never have to wear this again. We can all expect to see our hospitalizations increase and an increase in deaths. Unfortunately, I guess that is not important,” said Kirseman.
The Florida governor’s executive order does not apply to private businesses which are expected to last longer.
“I think it is more of a polite thing at this moment that other people are wearing their masks inside, and it is a social norm, and that is how I am seeing it. It is not going to be very long. There are also going to be people who want to mask inside after this, but I don’t think the country will keep the mask mandate once we get to a certain vaccination rate,” said UC San Francisco’s Dr. Monica Gandhi.
The percent positive in Florida has been about 9% for the last month. In New York, that number is much lower at 3% and California is at 1%.
Conversely, Florida has seen a lower coronavirus death rate over the last month than states like New York and California.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a “major reopening” scheduled for May 19 when capacity limits will be lifted for places like restaurants and gyms. New Jersey is also dropping many restrictions.
“These are the most aggressive steps we have taken to reopen to date. We feel confident we can do this safely because our numbers have trended in the right direction over the last 3 weeks,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
Some experts say 70 to 75% of the country would need to be vaccinated for “herd immunity.” Right now, about 32% of Americans are fully vaccinated.
“Yes, I am optimistic we will reach herd immunity in this country because I don’t go on any models for any other virus, but I look at other countries that are going faster than we are in terms of vaccination and seeing how low at a certain rate of vaccination the UK is with cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” said Gandhi.