By PAT RAIA,
Gov. Ron DeSantis vows that he will not issue new mask or lockdown mandates despite a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases statewide.
According to a Florida Department of Health (DOH) report published July 23, new cases of COVID-19 climbed to 73,199 during the week of July 16 through July 22, up from 45,884 for the week beginning July 9. New case positivity jumped to 15.1 percent., up from 11.5 percent for the week beginning July 9.
Closer to home, COVID-19 cases in Hernando County for July 16 through July 22 totaled 558 cases compared to 294 for the week beginning July 9. Hernando County's new case positivity rose to 17.8 percent the week of July 16 through July 22 from 12.0 percent, the DOH said.
Despite the hikes, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that he will not issue mask or lockdown mandates for the state.
“I told people that we would see an increase (of cases) in July because that's just how this (virus) works,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Fort Pierce on July 22, . “I'm not one for mandates.”
Specifically, DeSantis said that he would not require children returning to in-person learning to wear masks to school.
“Obviously, parents can equip their kids to go to school the way they want, but there will be no mandate,” he said. “Kids need to be kids – they need to breathe.”
Likewise, the Governor said that he would not call for the mandatory lockdown of businesses in Florida.
“We 're going to protect people's right to run their small businesses,” he said. “We're going to lift people up, we’re not going to lock people down.”
DeSantis' remarks came at a time when new COVID cases were spiking nationwide, and some federal authorities were weighing new anti-COVID guidance for individuals, schools and businesses.
In response, he said that Florida would remain open even if it meant calling lawmakers back to Tallahassee.
“If anyone is calling for lockdowns – you're not getting it that done in Florida,” DeSantis said. “If I need to get them (legislators) back into session, we will see what we can do from a legislative perspective.”
In a Facebook posting Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) agreed.
“I would be more than happy and willing to travel to Tallahassee for a special session to stop this,” he said.
Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) was unavailable for comment.