Florida easing guidelines as COVID-19 cases trend downward

Southeast

MIAMI (NewsNation) — The COVID-19 situation in Florida is improving – but some experts worry reopening schools and businesses could cause another spike in viruses cases.

Even in the middle of the week, restaurants with outdoor dining were crowded on Miami Beach, and Walt Disney World and other theme parks in Orlando are open for business.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis visited Universal Studios on Wednesday. He said theme parks are safe, and highlighted the downward trend of COVID-19 cases statewide.

“If you look at the picture of what we have seen here in Florida, I think we have seen consistent declines across the major metrics,” Gov. DeSantis said.

Florida’s percent positive, the rate of new positive COVID-19 tests, has been going in the right direction for weeks, Santis noted. At the peak in early July, the percent positive on daily new cases was 18%. It was down to 6% on Wednesday, according to the state.

And now there is a rush in some areas to reopen and get business going again.

In Miami-Dade County, the mayor announced restaurants with indoor dining can reopen starting on Monday. However, they must keep windows open and the AC on for ventilation. Tables must also be spaced out.

“We must keep our guard up. This does not mean this is over by a long shot,” said Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade Mayor.

Improving COVID-19 numbers has had school leaders rethinking their plan.

Superintendents in the two counties hardest hit by COVID-19, Miami-Dade and Broward, have hinted at resuming in-person teaching.

“If the current trends continue on the path of improvement, we could open sometime this fall. Again, I cannot guarantee or commit to any date as the path of the virus will drive the decisions we have to make,” Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

Some epidemiologists warn it is just too soon to reopen.

Last time South Florida relaxed social distancing guidelines was back in May, and it led to a major spike in COVID cases.

“We have more cases than we had back then as a state, county, and our cities. And our hospitals have more patients now who are very sick. So this is not over,” said Dr. Lilian Abbo, Epidemiologist and Professor of Clinical Infectious Diseases at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

While relaxing rules on restaurants, the mayor of Miami-Dade County says a 10 p.m. curfew will still be enforced until at least Labor Day.

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