Florida must practice social distancing until there's a vaccine, says surgeon general

As of Monday morning, Florida had 20,601 cases of the novel coronavirus, and 470 residents had died.

click to enlarge Scott Rivkees - Screengrab via the Florida Channel
Screengrab via the Florida Channel
Scott Rivkees

Florida residents might be social distancing and wearing facemasks for a year because of COVID-19, the state’s top public health officer said Monday. “Until we get a vaccine, which is a while off, this is going to be our new normal and we need to adapt and protect ourselves,” state Surgeon General and Florida Department of Health Secretary Scott Rivkees told reporters.

When asked to explain his remarks, Rivkees said, “As long as we are going to have COVID in the environment, and this is a tough virus, we are going to have to practice these measures so we are all protected.”

There is no vaccine to prevent infection with the novel coronavirus, which causes the deadly COVID-19 respiratory disease. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other experts maintain that a vaccine won’t be available for another 12 to 18 months.

When Rivkees was asked to explain how long the “new normal” could last, he said it could be “probably a year, if not longer.”

As of Monday morning, Florida had 20,601 cases of the novel coronavirus, and 470 residents had died. State Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said Monday the anticipated peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in Florida has been moved back in a forecast model from April 24 to April 26. “We continue to watch the models as new data is gathered and prepare accordingly,” Moskowitz said during a news conference at the Capitol with Rivkees and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine had initially put the peak at May 3, basing its forecast on the influx of cases and hospital capacity, along with state and national public-health data and information from the World Health Organization.

Support local journalism in these crazy days. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you up to the minute news on how Coronavirus is affecting Tampa and surrounding areas. Please consider making a one time or monthly donation to help support our staff. Every little bit helps.

Follow @cl_tampabay on Twitter to get the most up-to-date news + views. Subscribe to our newsletter, too.   

Scroll to read more Florida News articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]