COVID infections nearing 1.1 million; resident death toll, almost 20,000. Dems push for state mask mandate

Gov. Ron DeSantis, with a group at the Florida Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee. Many people were not wearing face masks. Credit: Lucy Morgan Facebook.

The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported 1,094,697 COVID-19 infections, with a jump of 11,234 from the day before — the highest daily increase in at least a two-week period.

The increase of 11,234 relates to figures for Florida residents.

In addition, the department reported 19,591 deaths of residents.

In a virtual call-in, Democrats in the Florida Senate on Thursday outlined a series of concerns about what’s happening during the pandemic. Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer believes that “the situation is growing more and more dire” in Florida. Farmer represents part of Broward County, which has some of the highest COVID figures in the state.

About a half dozen senators mentioned concerns about more transparency related to the COVID data and “common-sense” approaches to reducing harm. The group continued to push for a statewide mask mandate in Florida, though Gov. Ron DeSantis has not issued such a mandate.

The group mentioned that DeSantis has had recent events at the Governor’s Mansion, where many people were not wearing masks.

The senators also raised questions about Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who hasn’t been a major presence in news conferences or other media appearances.

“What is he doing?” said State Sen. Lori Berman, who represents part of Palm Beach County.

Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties continue to be be at the epicenter of the pandemic. Miami-Dade now has 251,283 COVID-19 infections; Broward, 117,525, and Palm Beach, 70,966. But Hillsborough (63,339) and Orange (61,697) are not far behind Palm Beach.

As to the COVID data, the New York Times is tracking cases in all states, including Florida.

In that analysis, Florida ranks 3rd of the 50 states for the total number of COVID-19 infections, but 26th in the rate of infections (cases per 100,000 people.)

In terms of deaths, Florida ranks 4th of the 50 states for the total number of deaths, and 17th in the death rate.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.