Florida Surpasses 1 Million COVID-19 Cases

Healthcare workers work at a walk-up COVID-19 testing site during the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, July 17, 2020, in Miami Beach, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI (AP) — Florida joined Texas and California in surpassing 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as the governor vowed not to adopt any further restrictions or impose closures like those enacted in the spring and summer.

Hospitalizations have also climbed in the state with 4,261 COVID-19 patients, up from 4,139 tallied on Monday.

The figure is still less than half what hospitals saw in late July, but it has steadily climbed since October after plateauing at about 2,000 hospitalizations daily for weeks following the summer surge of the virus.

The state’s health department on Tuesday reported 82 new virus deaths, raising the toll in the third-most populous state to at least 18,942 since the beginning of the pandemic.

While vaccines could arrive as early as this month, officials say it will be spring at the earliest before most people can receive the shots.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday on Twitter that the priority for the allocation of the new vaccines should be to residents of long-term care facilities who are “by far the most likely demographic to die with COVID.”

At a news conference on Monday, DeSantis said that lockdowns and closures have not worked and vowed not to issue any further restrictions that would hurt the state’s economy. DeSantis ordered school districts to stay open for in-person instruction and require some students to return to the classrooms if they have been falling behind due to virtual instruction.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has also advised to keep children in school, but has recommended adopting other measures such as closing bars to keep the community spread low.

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