During current COVID wave, Florida is outperforming California with fewer restrictions

Just the News:

As the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States approaches, two of the country’s three most populous states — California and Florida — are seeing two very different epidemiological curves.

The two states have arrived at more or less equal case numbers after roughly a year of divergent COVID-19 mitigation policies.

Florida as of this week has recorded a little over 1.5 million positive test results of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, while California has registered nearly 3 million. Per CDC figures, the two states are roughly equal in their population-adjusted case numbers per 100,000 residents, with California at around 7,300 and Florida at a little over 7,000. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed one of the harshest lockdowns in the country over roughly the past ten months, at times ordering wholesale closures of entire industries, the shuttering of private and public schools, and a statewide mask mandate.

Throughout 2020 Newsom periodically ordered the shuttering of bars, indoor dining and other recreational businesses in counties he determined were experiencing dangerous levels of COVID transmission. In July, Newsom ordered a statewide shutdown along those lines. The state in August revealed a strict, color-coded blueprint to which counties would have to adhere in permitting businesses to open. 

In Florida, meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis in the spring enacted numerous measures similar to those imposed by California around the same time, including bar closures and a stay-at-home order. By June, however, he had begun permitting the reopening of shuttered bars and restaurants. In September, DeSanis essentially lifted all statewide restrictions on the state’s economy while prohibiting local officials from fining state residents who refuse to wear masks. 

DeSantis also successfully pushed for the reinstitution of in-person learning for Florida students in the fall. By mid-October, all of the state’s 67 counties were offering in-person instruction for students, with DeSantis declaring further school closures “off the table.”

In California, meanwhile, the state is a rough patchwork of public school openings and closings based on the judgment calls of local authorities and/or state guidance. Newsom has lately been pushing for a February reopening of all the state’s public schools.

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