As Louisiana's neighbor suffers a spike in coronavirus cases, what could this mean for New Orleans and potential visitors to the state? Should Louisiana begin enforcing quarantine regulations for incoming Floridians, as their state previously did to Louisianans travelling to Florida?
States across the country have been gradually reopening their in-person economies for weeks now. Even as business reopenings have suffused into a kind of economic adrenaline needle, seeming to pull the U.S. back slightly from the slippery slope of recession, another effect has been an uptick in the number of new coronavirus cases. Florida set the record for most new cases in a single day last Friday, according to Newsweek.
Florida began Phase One of its economic reopening plan on May 18. The "record," such as it is, is not a national or global one but a local statistic. The 1,495 new cases that the Florida Department of Health reported on Friday were the most they'd seen in such a short time since the beginning of the pandemic.
Friday's precipitous spike brought Florida's total to 61,000 coronavirus patients. Another 53 additional people died, bringing Florida's casualty roll to 2,660 in all.
Based on the Health Department's files, Friday was not an aberration but follows a trend. Relatively more people have been getting sick in the state since they began reopening their economy. Taking Wednesday and Thursday of last week into the account, Friday's numbers added up over 4,000 new cases in just three days.
Despite the deteriorating situation, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says the state is following through on its plans to enter Phase Two of its economic plan, making more in-person commercial activity available to people. Under the new set of rules, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and concert venues can operate at 50 percent capacity, as opposed to the 20 percent or so maximum that Phase One obligated. Retail stores and gyms will reopen in full, with social distancing limitations.
Much as the state government seems eager to return to business as normal, the resurgence of novel coronavirus cases has thrown a wrench in their plans, albeit a minor one. A disproportionate number of the cases have been limited to just three counties: Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward counties. The rest of the state has already leapfrogged to Phase Two, as of late last week. Those three counties are exceptions. They remain under Phase One, though they can easily join the rest of Florida. Local authorities in the three counties need merely "request written permission" to reopen from the state capital.
The news out of Florida comes at a contradictory time for the country at large. Many public officials took the opportunity last week to spike the football, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics posted a positive economic report for May. A substantial decrease in unemployment seemed to vindicate the phased approach to reopening.
While encouraging, the round of celebration threatened to drown out the death chorus of the almost two million Americans who have had the coronavirus. The apparent economic recovery offered a discomfiting parallel to the bad news out of the last couple weeks. At the end of last month, the U.S. reached a morbid milestone. The total number of deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 100,000.