MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Florida is the lowest it has been in months, according to the state. And now, Gov. Ron DeSantis is rolling back restrictions when it comes to restaurants, bars, and mask mandates.
In an executive order signed Friday, DeSantis says bars and restaurants can go back to 100% capacity.
Counties can still tweak specifications.
“The fact you continue to move forward with the economy doesn’t mean the virus disappears. People should just understand it is something we are going to have to deal with,” Gov. DeSantis said.
According to the Florida Department of Health, the percent positive in Florida of new COVID-19 cases has been at or below 5% for the past two weeks.
The state says COVID-19 hospitalizations are also down more than 70% since July.
Miami Beach, where capacity is still limited, is struggling with how to deal with the governor’s order.
Bartender Monique Sampedro wants to go back to full capacity for economic reasons but is also worried about another spike in cases.
“I know a lot of people in this industry. It has been hit really hard. A lot of people just moved back home, where they are from. They couldn’t make it here. There are just no jobs,” Sampedro said.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber wrote the governor over the weekend about the executive order saying, “ I also urge you to reconsider its impact on my community’s mask regulations, as I believe without an ability to require mask usage, your order will only result in the aggressive spread of disease.”
DeSantis says if there is a spike, they will be ready.
“We are prepared if we see an increase. We are not closing anything going forward. But I think if you look at our hospital capacity, what we did to marshal the latest medications and PPE, we have the tools in place we need,” DeSantis said.
But some experts warn it is still too soon to roll back restrictions.
“We have been quite accurate when it comes to predicting mortality,” Dr. Ali Mokdad with the University of Washington’s Institute for Health and Metrics Evaluation said.
His models predict a troubling increase in Florida COVID-19 deaths between now and January.
“My advice to the government of Florida is please keep an eye on the numbers if they start going up, you should dial back and you should be courageous enough to make the right decision,” Dr. Mokdad said.