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'No lockdown;' Gov. DeSantis pledges as COVID cases spike

Lines for COVID testing in West Palm Beach on Nov. 14, 2020 (WPEC).{ }
Lines for COVID testing in West Palm Beach on Nov. 14, 2020 (WPEC).
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Florida added more than 10,000 new COVID cases in a single day over the weekend, a number the state hasn't seen since the summer surge,

CBS12 News obtained a copy of a recent White House report dated October 25, warning "Florida is in the red zone for cases."

The report, which starts on page 11 of the attached file, highlights an increase in cases, case positivity, and no decline in week over week hospital admissions, which "suggests the early signals of expanding community spread that should be immediately addressed."

As other governor's across the country commit to new measures to slow the spread of the virus, like issuing statewide mask mandates and stay at home orders, Governor DeSantis' office is pledging to keep Florida open.

"Today we are back down to 4,500 [cases] and a 7.3% positivity rate," a spokesperson for Governor DeSantis told CBS12 News. "We believe yesterday's high number was due to a large submission file and skewed the numbers for that day. The Governor will not lockdown and hurt families who can't afford to shelter in place for 6 weeks. Especially not for a virus that has a 99.8% survival rate. One area of concern is Assisted Living Facilities. Since those over 70 face the greatest threat from [COVID] the Governor is monitoring those numbers daily and is prepared to move therapeutic and prophylactic assets to those facilities as needed."

At the end of September, Governor DeSantis moved all of the state into Phase 3 of re-opening, which eliminated COVID-related business closures and capacity limitations.

His order made county-wide mask mandates unenforceable, by eliminating fines associated with them.

The state has seen a steady increase in cases and positivity rates since fully re-opening.

"The overall trends are really, very ugly," said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished Health Professor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health.

He said the number of COVID cases are now rising exponentially, and would recommend the Governor at least implement a statewide mask mandate.

"The models we are running are predicting we will see a massive increase in the number of cases," Dr. Unnasch said. "It's going to continue to grow like a rocket. Probably it's going to end up peaking somewhere around Christmas, and Inauguration Day."

He said if the state won't issue any mandates, it should at least increase it's communication and public health messaging so people can adjust their behavior and plans accordingly.

"We are facing a very difficult situation if people don't rally around and take care, with or without the governor's encouragement," Unnasch said.

CBS12 News reached out to Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner to ask if his office is speaking to the Governor's office about the rise in cases and what can be done to address them.

A spokesperson said, "The county is monitoring the COVID-19 numbers closely," and added that they will be receiving another update from the county's health director, Dr. Alina Alonso, Tuesday.

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