TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) — Most beaches in the central and northern parts of Florida will be open for the Independence Day weekend as the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge.
In fact, Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has long advocated for Floridians to exercise as a way to get out of the house during the pandemic, said he prefers people to be outside with July 4 holiday on the horizon.
“Doing things outdoors in Florida is less risky than doing things where you’re packed indoors,” DeSantis said Wednesday during an appearance in Daytona Beach. “I think having the parks and having beaches, obviously you know it needs to be controlled. I think most of the localities like Brevard (County) and here in Volusia (County) have done that.”
“But by and large, the virus does not like sunshine, heat and humidity,” DeSantis continued. “I think every study has shown that.”
DeSantis added that “for the Fourth of July, I’m more concerned about people crowding into the A/C and having private parties and things like that where you’re real close, close contact.”
Beaches across South Florida, from Collier County on the West Coast, through the Keys, and up the East Coast to St. Lucie County, will be closed for set hours or during the entire holiday weekend. Possibly expecting a rush of South Floridians, Vero Beach in Indian River County will only allow county residents on the beach from Friday morning to Sunday night.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it remains undetermined if weather and temperature affect the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
“Some other viruses, like those that cause the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website. “There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity and other features associated with COVID-19, and investigations are ongoing.”
The World Health Organization lists on its “myth busters” webpage an item trying to dispel the notion that exposure to the sun or warmer temperatures protects people from the disease.
“You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is,” the World Health Organization website said. “Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.”
Jacksonville this week joined a growing list of Florida cities and counties requiring face masks to be worn when people are unable to socially distance indoors to prevent the spread of the virus.
The move was made less than two months before Republicans will gather in Jacksonville for the Republican National Convention.
And so far, unlike a more defiant stance about health precautions that led the GOP to move much of the convention out of Charlotte, N.C., party leaders say they will abide by the directive of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican.
“We always said, ‘Look, it’s a work in progress,’” DeSantis said Sunday. “We’re going to try to get to yes.”
The message is that conditions could improve in two months, with President Donald Trump being able to give his acceptance speech at Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena before an audience of mask-free faces.
“Obviously, we’re in a dynamic situation,” DeSantis continued Sunday. “They know that. But I think we’ll be fine by that time, it’s a couple months away.”
DeSantis has declined to issue a statewide mandate for people to wear masks, leaving the issue up to local governments.
“We’ve wanted to have a collaborative effort with the locals from the beginning,” DeSantis said Monday. “Different areas have handled this differently based on their facts and circumstances. And even today, you know, you see, obviously, discrepancies throughout the state in terms of the course of the pandemic. So, we’ve worked very closely with Jacksonville, just as we’ve worked with the folks in South Florida and others, and we’re going to continue to do that and support efforts that they think are appropriate in their given jurisdictions.”
Republicans decided to move key parts of the convention from Charlotte to Jacksonville last month after Trump expressed displeasure that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was “unable to guarantee” that coronavirus social-distancing requirements would be lifted before the event, scheduled for Aug. 24 to Aug. 27.
“We are going to abide by what the mayor and governor are saying,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said during an appearance Tuesday on Fox News. “The difference is, in Florida they want to make it happen. They understand, we can do things in a healthy and safe way working together and, unfortunately, in North Carolina, Gov. Cooper wouldn’t work with us at all, wouldn’t give us guidelines, and it just wouldn’t have been fair to fly thousands of people into a city where at that point only 10 people were allowed into any given building.”
NEW DEAL, SAME VIEWS
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is continuing to voice opposition to Trump’s revised and renamed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, which went into force Wednesday.
The trade deal took the place of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump had vowed to end.
“Like the USMCA’s (U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement’s) predecessor, NAFTA, the agreement does nothing to protect southeastern seasonal produce growers from continued unfair foreign trade,” Fried, a Democrat, said in a news release that warned a lack of protections could cost Florida up to 8,000 farm jobs and $400 million in revenue.
In contrast, Republican National Committee spokeswoman Emma Vaughn said in a release that “Floridians can rejoice” because the deal will “increase access, create new opportunities, and level the playing field when negotiating with our top two trading partners.”
TWEET OF THE WEEK: “If I owned a Bar I would open up immediately.” — State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini), on Saturday, after the state stopped bars from serving alcohol to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.