DeSantis signed an executive order on Friday evening allowing restaurants and bars to immediately begin operating at 100% capacity. He cited the economic hardships of not operating businesses at full capacity, according to the order.
The opportunity to fully reopen was welcomed by some restaurant and bar owners who said their businesses have suffered over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve had to pay the rent, the electric, all the bills,” Qualls said. “If it was too much longer, we wouldn’t be here.”
The governor’s order came as experts have warned of a potential surge in coronavirus cases across the country as fall and winter approach, driven by increased indoor activity due to falling temperatures and growing apathy toward the threat of the virus.
Up until now, mandating mask wearing in public and slowly reopening has helped to keep the coronavirus case count down in Miami, Suarez said. He’s concerned that the changes in the state are coming as flu season ramps up and schools prepare for in-person learning to begin in mid-October.
“We’ll see in the next couple of weeks whether (the governor’s) right about his perspective. But if he’s wrong about his perspective … it’s going to be very, very, very difficult for him and it’s going to be a very difficult time, because it’s in the middle of flu season,” Suarez said.
As of Sunday, the number of new Covid-19 cases has increased by at least 10% or more compared to the week before in 21 states, most of them in the West.
Eighteen states were holding steady. Only 11 — Arizona, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire — saw decreases of new cases of more than 10% compared to the week prior.
A winter surge could be on the horizon
New York state on Saturday reported more than 1,000 new cases for the first time since early June, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to warn residents about growing complacent going forward.
“It’s vital that New Yorkers continue to practice the basic behaviors that drive our ability to fight Covid-19 as we move into the fall and flu season,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Wearing masks, socially distancing and washing hands make a critical difference, as does the deliberate enforcement of state guidance by local governments.”
Neighboring New Jersey also reported 760 new cases Saturday — the highest daily case count since early June, according to the state’s Covid-19 dashboard.
“You don’t want to enter into the fall and winter with a community spread at that level, because if you do, you got a difficult situation that’s going to be really challenging,” Fauci told JAMA Editor in Chief Dr. Howard Bauchner.
A winter surge could already be brewing in Europe, Murray said.
“Cases are exploding there. So we know it’s coming and we expect it to hit the US pretty soon,” Murray said.
Normal could be a long way off — even with a vaccine
“By the time you get enough people vaccinated … so that you can start thinking about maybe getting a little bit more towards normality, that very likely, as I and others have said, will be maybe the third quarter or so of 2021,” he told Bauchner. “Maybe even into the fourth quarter.”
In the meantime, Fauci and other leading experts have urged Americans to continue heeding safety guidelines and wearing masks, keeping a distance, avoid crowded places and washing their hands.
The measures could be life-saving.
“This research clearly confirms that despite high rates of COVID-19 in the United States, the number of people with antibodies is still low and we haven’t come close to achieving herd immunity,” one of the study authors, Dr. Julie Parsonnet, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, said in a statement.
“Until an effective vaccine is approved, we need to make sure our more vulnerable populations are reached with prevention measures.”
CNN’s Christina Maxouris, Nicole Chavez, Jay Croft, Lauren Mascarenhas, Melissa Alonso, Shelby Lin Erdman, Andrea Kane and Konstantin Toropin contributed to this report.