Leaked White House document says Florida and many of its counties are in coronavirus 'red zone’

DeSantis has yet to address the report in any of his recent press conferences.

Leaked White House document says Florida and many of its counties are in coronavirus 'red zone’

A leaked report prepared for the White House Coronavirus task force, and published Thursday by the Center for Public Integrity, recommends Florida mandate face masks while increasing restrictions on restaurants, bars and gyms.

The report breaks down the status of the coronavirus pandemic at a national, regional, state and local level. States and counties in the “red zone” experienced more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people last week, and have a positivity rate above 10%. As expected, Florida and many of its counties are in the “red zone.” 

According to the 359-page report, the sunshine state added 308 new infections for every 100,000 people from July 7-14, which is more than double the national average of 119 cases per 100,000.

The report recommended increased restrictions in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Broward and Polk County as well as Jacksonville, which will host the Republican National Convention August 24-27.

At a Thursday roundtable discussion at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he had no plans to increase restrictions on businesses in Hillsborough County.

The Tampa Bay area recorded a record-high 72 deaths on Thursday, with 40 of those from Hillsborough County, reported the Tampa Bay Times.

For counties in the red zone, the report lists public messaging and policy recommendations including: 

  • Wear a mask at all times outside the home and maintain physical distance
  • Limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer
  • Do not go to bars, nightclubs, or gyms
  • Use take out or eat outdoors socially distanced
  • Protect anyone with serious medical conditions at home by social distancing at home and using high levels of personal hygiene, including handwashing and cleaning surfaces
  • Reduce your public interactions and activities to 25% of your normal activity Public Officials
  • Close bars and gyms, and create outdoor dining opportunities with pedestrian areas
  • Limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer
  • Institute routine weekly testing of all workers in assisted living and long-term care facilities. Require masks for all staff and prohibit visitors
  • Ensure that all business retailers and personal services require masks and can safely social distance
  • Increase messaging on the risk of serious disease for individuals in all age groups with preexisting obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus, and recommend to shelter in place

Another 12 Florida counties are in the “yellow zone” indicating that they are “at-risk” of case surges, according to the report. 

DeSantis has yet to address the report in any of his recent press conferences; instead, he has stood by his decision to reopen schools in August, along with not mandating face masks at the state level. 

This new report, combined with frustration over DeSantis’ lack of action, has caused fierce criticism from local lawmakers. On Friday, State Rep. Anna Eskamani tweeted  “As @GovRonDeSantis has resisted calls to issue a statewide mask mandate, even the @realDonaldTrump White House has made clear that FL is a "red zone" state & masks should be mandated in all counties w/rising test percent positivity for #COVID19.”

click to enlarge Governor's Report 14 July 20 - From the White House Coronavirus Task Force Obtained by the Center for Public Integrity
Governor's Report 14 July 20From the White House Coronavirus Task Force Obtained by the Center for Public Integrity

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About The Author

Christopher Cann

Christopher is a current journalism student at the University of Florida. His past work can be seen at Ears to Feed, The Independent Florida Alligator and Cigar City Management. 

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