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Lee County is a COVID ‘red zone,’ task force finds

By CJ HADDAD / cjhaddad@breezenewspapers.com - | Dec 15, 2020

A report issued by the White House Coronavirus Task force has Florida “in the red” when it comes to the spread of COVID-19.

While Gov. Ron DeSantis had not released this report as of press time, its release has been court-ordered and the nonprofit organization Center for Public Integrity obtained and made public a document dated Dec. 6 that recommends greater mitigation steps be taken. These reports are sent to the governor’s desk each week and have not been made public by DeSantis since late October.

The report states, “Florida is in the red zone for cases, indicating 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population, with the 41st highest rate in the country. Florida is in the red zone for test positivity, indicating a rate at or above 10.1%, with the 33rd highest rate in the country. Rankings are almost irrelevant as the entire country is surging.”

The report indicates that the state has seen stability in new cases, an increase in test positivity, and an increase of hospitalizations and deaths.

The report said these statistics indicate an “unrelenting community spread and inadequate mitigation.”

According to the report, 99 percent of all counties in Florida have moderate or high levels of community transmission (yellow, orange or red zones), including Lee County (red zone).

The recommendation from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, stated, “Mitigation efforts must increase … including masking, physical distancing, hand hygiene, no indoor gatherings outside of immediate households and aggressive testing to find the asymptomatic individuals responsible for the majority of infectious spread.”

DeSantis has never imposed a statewide mask mandate throughout the pandemic and has repeatedly stated in media conferences he would not be repealing any COVID-19-based mandates for businesses.

Request for comment to DeSantis’ office was not immediately returned.