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Local officials react to Florida’s record-breaking new COVID cases

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 5:48 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -

New numbers show COVID-19 cases continue to grow in Florida, including parts of the panhandle.

Panama Cit Beach resident Dr. Carlton Schwartz said, “I’m still worried about it.” While Bay County resident Randy Waller said, “I’m not personally worried about it.”

The state saw a record number of new coronavirus cases this week. Friday was the largest single-day increase of new cases topping 3,800.

“Let’s define cases- are they sick people who are in danger, in mortal danger right now? or are they just people who are walking around, didn’t know they had the virus, got a test, it was positive- and that happens a lot,” said Congressman Neal Dunn. He believes the focus should now be on pinpointing those with immunity who have been exposed, “and we should be targeting, that’s something important, we target the populations at risk, the geographic locations at risk- often nursing homes- and we can clean those up.”

Some of the Governor’s requirements for the state to enter Phase Three of reopening include a downward trajectory of documented COVID-19 cases, or other indications of a decrease of the pandemic’s spread.

“We’re always concerned about the case spike when we see it but what we also watch is every day we watch the hospitalizations and we watch the ICU bed availability. Those numbers are still in line, we’ve had a few more hospitalizations but not too many,” said Panama City Beach mayor Mark Sheldon.

The below chart from the governor’s office shows 134 coronavirus tests were given the first week of March- last week, that number soared to about 230,000 tests.

The chart shows an increase in weekly Florida COVID-19 testing, beginning the first week of...
The chart shows an increase in weekly Florida COVID-19 testing, beginning the first week of March through the week of June 10.(Office of Governor Ron DeSantis)

Sheldon said, “we also watch Georgia and Alabama and we look at their hospitalizations because we know we’re a drive market and a destination market for a lot of those folks.”

While other parts of Florida worry about closing again, Dunn believes the panhandle should keep its doors open. He said, “but I do feel like our part of the state is ready to open up and enjoy the benefits of being in the gulf coast.”

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