Medical experts are worried that Florida is on pace to become the next coronavirus epicenter as new infections continue to rise after the state’s widely-criticized early reopening, CNN reports.
Florida has "all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission," and risks being the "worst it has ever been," according to scientific modelers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.
"The potential for the virus to take off there is very, very nerve-racking and could have catastrophic consequences" because of the state’s aging population, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told CNN.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed that the state would not shut down again and blamed the new spikes on increased testing and outbreaks in prisons, agricultural plants, and long-term care facilities.
Experts reject increased testing explanation:
Like DeSantis, the Trump administration has tried to argue that the rising infections are caused by increased testing.
Experts have rejected that explanation.
"When you see 50% or 150% increase in the number of cases you are seeing -- which is what we are seeing across the South -- that's not testing. That's new cases. That's community spread," said Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of the department of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
“The truth is that the pandemic is still very, very active in the United States and that we're not getting back to normal and there are difficult things that the public has to do," said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University.
Other states see rise:
Florida is one of ten states that saw a record number of new coronavirus cases over the last week, along with Alabama, Arizona, California, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas.
In total, 23 states are seeing a rise in new cases. Only 19 states have seen a downward trend.
Red states have pushed back on the idea of shutting down again, leading some governors to push residents to wear masks instead.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has urged residents to wear masks and has allowed mayors to require masks even though he refuses to issue such an order.
On the other hand, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has banned mayors from issuing orders requiring masks.