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Florida’s Covid-19 outbreak is “totally out of control,” according to a Democratic representative, and the mayor of Los Angeles said his city is “on the brink” of new restrictions, comments that suggest the country’s months of trade-offs between the health of the community and the economy are far from over.
Speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Donna Shalala called for a lockdown of the third most-populous state and dismissed talk about reopening schools as “ridiculous.”
“It’s terrible,” said Shalala, whose South Florida district sits within Miami-Dade County, one of the hardest-hit parts of the state.
On the Pacific coast, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he’s considering another stay-at-home order for Los Angeles but emphasized that the city still had room in its hospitals and had been testing aggressively. Schools won’t hold in-person classes until the city records at least 14 consecutive days of case decline and is removed from the state’s watch list, Garcetti told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Their remarks come as U.S. officials mull further restrictions geared at curbing rising case counts and hospitalizations. With the world braced for a fresh onslaught of the new coronavirus, the U.S. is getting hit harder than most — 88% of Arizona’s intensive care beds are being used, while on a single day this month, Florida recorded more new infections than the whole of the European Union.
Both Shalala and Garcetti faulted the Trump administration’s virus response. Shalala said Governor Ron DeSantis reopened the state too soon, adding that low-income minority residents were bearing the brunt because employers are demanding they return to work.
“It’s the working poor, it’s seniors, it’s now young people and it’s totally out of control,” said Shalala, who served as Health and Human Services Secretary under President Bill Clinton. “We need to close down again in Florida.”
In addition to lockdowns, mask requirements are another proposal being considered. In Mississippi, which has a rising virus burden, only 13 of 82 counties require the face coverings. The state’s medical association recently urged a statewide mandate, warning that otherwise the outbreak’s trajectory wouldn’t be sustainable for the area’s health-care system.
Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, said on CNN that while people need to wear masks, Los Angeles — which imposed the requirement at essential businesses in April — showed that “it’s not about the words you write on the page.”
“It’s about, how do you get the vast majority of your citizens to actually adhere to doing what’s right?” he said. “If I believed that was the best way to save lives in my state, I would have done it a long time ago.”
Florida deaths and new infections have slowed in the last two days; on Sunday the state reported that cases had risen by 3.7% against the previous seven-day average of 4.1%. Still, the state reported on Sunday its fifth consecutive day of new cases over 10,000.
“I care deeply about the economy, but first I care about human life,” Shalala said.
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