Florida's Reopening; Fifth Week Update

It’s now been five full weeks since 64 of Florida’s 67 counties began to reopen, four weeks for Palm Beach County and three weeks for Broward and Miami-Dade. On May 4th, the day reopening began in Florida, we averaged 671 cases of COVID-19 per day in the prior week. Most recently, we’ve averaged 1,238 newly diagnosed cases daily. All of Florida’s hotspots are from Martin County south through Miami-Dade, with Indiantown being the most northern hotspot and Homestead being the furthest south. This isn’t what any of us in South Florida want to hear. Yet, in an odd turn of events, after two months of lockdowns and a slower approach to reopening in South Florida, we have the biggest problems. 

On May 3rd, the day before reopening began, 3.6% of COVID-19 tests came back positive. That’s static at 3.6% as of the most recent reporting. Most recent daily cases went up 85% and positive test results are flat.

If the positive test rate is flat with where we were when we reopened, this isn’t just a matter of more testing. It’s a greater spread of the virus too. Recently, two separate studies have shown the use of masks in public is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes being more effective than lockdowns. This is consistent with what we’re seeing in South Florida right now. The tri-county remains the most restricted in the state-still in Phase 1 reopening, while the rest of the state has moved on to Phase 2 yet contains almost all of the hotspots in Florida. Based on all data available it appears as though South Floridians are the most careless when it comes to wearing masks. This is a reminder to control what you can control. If wearing a mask is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus, we should be wearing them when in closed spaces in public. 

Five weeks into reopening in Florida, most of the state has had success. Unfortunately for South Florida, we’re having our worst run with the virus right now. We might not want to hear or deal with it but ignoring the issue won’t change reality. The recent trend also seems to suggest the impact of heat and humidity on the virus isn’t as significant as we’d hoped. 

The bottom line is this, we all want to get on with our lives and leave the virus behind but every day a minimum of hundreds of Floridians, most in South Florida, are becoming infected. We need to remember to be smart and safe in public, many appear to have been a bit careless. 

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