Florida’s path from worst-to-first in COVID metrics raises questions on pandemic restrictions

Two months in the past, Florida led the nation in COVID-19 positivity charges and per capita hospitalizations and deaths. Now, the state has the nation’s lowest positivity and loss of life charges.

Gov. Ron DeSantis attributes the turnaround – a part of a sustained nationwide development – to the state’s aggressive vaccination outreach, creation of monoclonal therapy facilities and its “data-driven method freed from mandates.”

Most public well being officers, nevertheless, say the pandemic’s wane throughout a lot of the nation, particularly in areas similar to Florida that noticed important summer time surges, is following an more and more acquainted two-month cycle and has nothing to do with authorities insurance policies, a method or one other.

Good level, DeSantis’ workplace agreed, noting Florida’s positivity, hospitalization and loss of life charges are beneath these of New York and California, the place governments imposed enterprise shutdowns and masks/vaccine mandates.

In the course of the peak of July-August’s COVID-19 surge, Florida was recording 101 circumstances per 100,000 folks and 1.77 new deaths per 100,000 folks, each among the many nation’s highest tallies.

As an alternative of buckling to calls for to tighten restrictions on companies, faculties and social actions, DeSantis doubled-down on his method to make use of government energy and a legally-challenged enlargement of state regulatory authority to ban masks and vaccine mandates and penalize entities, together with, maybe quickly, personal companies, that violated the coverage.

The governor argued the spike was seasonal and would wane. He mentioned vaccinations, monoclonal therapies, and controversially, “herd immunity,” would step by step show to be the profitable ticket in defeating the pandemic – and would achieve this with out enterprise shutdowns and public masks mandates that disrupt the whole lot from the financial system to public faculties.

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DeSantis’ stand now seems insightful, or at the least providential, as a result of whereas case counts, hospitalizations and deaths attributed to COVID-19 have declined nationwide since mid-September, they’ve dramatically plummeted in Florida over the past month.

In keeping with the federal Facilities for Illness Management & Prevention (CDC), over the past 14 days as of Thursday, Florida is recording 8 circumstances per 100,000 folks, a 38% decline from the earlier two-week interval, and 0.1 deaths per 100,000 folks over the past week. Each are the nation’s lowest charges.

“With out mandates or lockdowns, COVID-19 circumstances in Florida have decreased 90% since August,” DeSantis mentioned in an announcement. “Along with circumstances, hospitalizations have plummeted in our state. This has been completed by making monoclonal antibody therapies and vaccines broadly accessible all through our state whereas defending Floridians from authorities overreach.”

DeSantis’ workplace famous Florida’s numbers are higher throughout the board than states that imposed enterprise lockdowns and different restrictions.

“As Florida now ranks lowest within the continental U.S. by way of COVID-19 charges per capita, we’re proud to have stood agency in defending liberty all through the pandemic,” Lt. Gov. Janet Nuñez mentioned, praising DeSantis for an method “guided by science, knowledge, and pragmatism, not worry and alarmist narratives.”

In keeping with the Governor’s Workplace, since opening 25 state-run monoclonal antibody therapies throughout the state starting in August, greater than 147,000 Floridians have obtained therapies and hospitalizations have decreased 87%.

Since June, vaccination charges amongst 12-19 yr olds have elevated by 27%; 20-29 yr olds by 18%; 30-39 yr olds by 20%; 40-49 yr olds by 19%; 50-59 yr olds by 15%; 60-64 yr previous by 11%.

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The variety of folks vaccinated grew by 74,850 over the past two weeks, which means about 13.865 million Floridians, about 73% of the state’s eligible inhabitants, have been vaccinated.

COVID-19 circumstances in school-aged youngsters have decreased 87% since faculties began and circumstances amongst 18-24 yr olds decreased 93% since August, the Governor’s Workplace mentioned.

Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas – all of which noticed circumstances surge through the July-August “fourth wave” of the pandemic – have additionally seen important declines since early September.

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