The White House coronavirus taskforce recommended that Florida take stricter coronavirus measures earlier this month as cases in the state and across the country climbed, according to a report obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.
“Florida has seen stability in new cases, an increase in test positivity, and increasing hospitalizations and deaths, indicating unrelenting community spread and inadequate mitigation,” said the White House taskforce report dated Dec. 6.
The taskforce recommended requiring that masks be worn in public spaces at all times, limiting gatherings outside of immediate households and closing or reducing capacity in public indoor spaces.
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Florida reported 8,958 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 1,125,931. The reported cases on Sunday were the lowest since Dec. 7, when 7,876 new cases were reported in Florida.
DeSantis has faced backlash for his handling of the pandemic, with critics accusing him of being too lax on restrictions. DeSantis has pushed back on the notion of issuing a statewide mask mandate and extended an executive order earlier this month that block Florida cities from fining people for not following local mask mandates.
Additionally, the governor’s order blocked cities and counties from ordering restaurants to shut their doors without showing economic or public health data to justify the move.
“I’m opposed to mandates period. I don’t think they work,” DeSantis said earlier this month. “People in Florida wear [masks] when they go out. They don’t have to be strung up by a bayonet to do it.”
The governor has also faced backlash from critics and some Florida media outlets for not being transparent about coronavirus case data.
Last week, the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel sued DeSantis’s administration for not publicizing the White House task force’s weekly reports about the pandemic’s impact on the state.