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Covid Surge & Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Response; Red Tide

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis puts on his mask as he leaves a news conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Monday, July 13, 2020, in Miami. DeSantis acknowledged Monday that the new coronavirus is spreading and urged people to take precautions such as wearing masks in public places, social distancing and avoiding crowds. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

COVID cases have surged in Florida in the past few weeks amid a plateau of vaccination rates and the spread of the Delta variant.

Florida had 45,603 cases as of July 9, accounting  for 1-in-5 new cases of COVID-19 nationwide.

However, Gov. Ron DeSantis is shrugging off the spike as a “seasonal” phenomenon (which public health experts say is not the case), and he has remained staunch in his opposition to mandating masks in schools despite the fact that children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. He also says that he will not consider another lockdown for the state.

Meanwhile, a group of Florida physicians is speaking out against DeSantis, attributing the spike to his “premature” reopening of the state and his blocking of local precautions like mask mandates.

Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami cardiologist and the Florida state lead for the Committee to Protect Public Healthcare, is one of the doctors. He joined us, along with Chad Neilsen, the director of accreditation and infection prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, and Gary Fineout of Politico to discuss Florida’s spike in COVID and the governor’s response to it.

Red Tide 

Tampa Bay’s shoreline has been littered with almost 1,300 tons of deceased sea life, as scientists say the root cause appears to be a bloom of red tide. The toxic algae is naturally occurring and can cause humans respiratory irritation, it is potentially fatal for marine life. A red tide bloom typically appears annually along the Gulf Coast, but this particular bloom is worrying residents and environmentalists due to its early timing and persistence.

Maya Burke, the assistant director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, and Steve Newborn of WUSF joined us to discuss the red tide bloom.

Mackenzie Guiry can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org.

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