• Florida coronavirus cases are on the rise again and are expected to spike even further in the coming days, now that the state has removed restrictions on the operation of bars and restaurants.
  • People were seen packed into bars and restaurants across Florida in recent days, many without masks and not social-distancing, following an order from Gov. Ron DeSantis fully reopening those facilities.
  • White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci weighed in, and said this kind of thing has him particularly worried about Florida right now.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the state of Florida has turned a corner or sufficiently beaten back the COVID-19 pandemic to an acceptable level, based on the order that the state’s Gov. Ron DeSantis announced at the end of last week which removed the last restrictions on the operation of bars and restaurants. Essentially, the order reopens both of them completely, while DeSantis’ order also prohibits local governments in the state from enforcing mask mandates, fining people for not social-distancing, and bars local governments from forcing businesses to close or to operate at less than half-capacity if those local leaders don’t provide an adequate justification for those moves.

Hoo-ray, the pandemic is solved in Florida, right? Hardly. No surprise, Florida coronavirus cases have been on the rise again in the days since DeSantis issued his order.

In fact, the state’s actions along these lines are so concerning that White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci addressed them during a new interview to explain why he’s particularly worried about Florida right now.

“That is very concerning to me,” said Fauci, who’s also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America. “When you’re dealing with community spread, and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together, particularly without masks, you’re really asking for trouble. Now’s the time actually to double down a bit, and I don’t mean close … we’re not talking about shutting anything down. We’re talking about commonsense-type public health measures.”

No surprise, local media noted that bars were packed in South Florida over the weekend in the wake of DeSantis’ order.

It was noted that many people could be seen without masks or keeping themselves socially distanced from other people. A Tampa Bay Times reporter wrote that the scenes actually resembled the way things looked in the state pre-coronavirus. Further adding to the sense that Florida is getting as aggressive as it can in returning as much as possible to a sense of normalcy, strip clubs in Broward County as well as in Miami-Dade have reopened (albeit with coronavirus-era restrictions).

The Harvard Global Health Institute’s map of COVID risk levels state-by-state shows that Florida is currently recording 11.1 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people for its 7-day moving average. That is an acceptable level, albeit prior to DeSantis’ new order. It remains to be seen the degree to which that will change in the coming days.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.