Despite a growing number of cases and deaths, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis refuses to close the state’s beaches amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
According to Yahoo News, DeSantis said he has no regrets keeping beaches open and compared the state’s beaches to New York’s still-running subway system.
“Do you hear the same people complaining about the New York City subway system being open?” DeSantis said at a press conference on Saturday. “I mean, give me a break. Which one is more conducive to having COVID-19 spread or any respiratory virus? It’s not even close.”
Metropolitan Transportation Association spokesperson Ken Lovett slammed DeSantis for his comparing going to the beach to essential travel.
“Keeping the beaches open does not get doctors, nurses, police, firefighters, grocery, and food delivery employees to and from work–the subways do and there is nothing more essential,” Lovett told the New York Daily News. Police officers are also working in New York City to limit the number of people in subway cars to prevent riders being “packed in like sardines”.
DeSantis said authorities were enforcing social distancing guidelines but photos and videos shared on Twitter paint a different picture. The photos show large crowds ignoring the advice of medical experts and gathering on the beach. After the pictures went viral this weekend, officials announced that St. Johns County beaches would be closed for the foreseeable future.
“We have taken as many measures as possible up to this point to preserve our residents’ ability to access their beach. Unfortunately, those visiting the beach continue to ignore CDC guidelines regarding crowd size and personal distancing. In order to maintain public safety and respect the State of Florida’s Executive Order, we had no choice but to close the coastline to public access today,” Hunter S. Conrad, St. Johns County Administrator, said in a statement.
Other areas, however, remained open Sunday for beachgoers to ignore regulations. Officials in hotspot locations like Miami have ordered those residents to stay home. DeSantis has held on tight to his intention not to issue a stay-at-home order for the state or a mandate for all beaches to close.
Coronavirus cases in Florida rose from to 4,950 people on Sunday to more than 7,000 Wednesday morning. Numbers are expected to skyrocket over the next two weeks.
The coronavirus has taken on a more serious tone in recent days as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has predicted more than 200,000 deaths. The Federal Reserve has also predicted more than 47 million could be unemployed by the end of the summer.