Nearly a year since COVID-19 first touched the United States, Florida and California – both of which have responded to the pandemic in their own ways – are yielding vastly different results.
Florida has been much more open and less restricted than its west coast counterpart and has recorded just above 1.5 million cases. Yet California, despite being among the strictest in the nation when it comes to COVID lockdowns, has recorded nearly twice that figure since the start of the pandemic.
Though Florida has a smaller population than California, as a percentage both states have roughly the same number of cases per 100,000 residents.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has faced harsh criticism for his strict handling of the coronavirus. Over the course of 2020, he has ordered bars, indoor dining, and other business shut down in counties passing a certain threshold of COVID-19 cases.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, however, has taken a different approach. Though he did take similar measures to Newsom early on in the pandemic, he allowed bars and restaurants to open by June. A few months later, he lifted more statewide restrictions on the economy and prohibited law enforcement from fining people who don’t wear masks.
In October, DeSantis said statewide school closures because of the coronavirus are not a viable option and “should be off the table.”
Meanwhile, most of California’s 6 million public school students have been learning remotely since the pandemic began in March. The Democrat governor late last month announced a $2 billion plan to push the state’s schools to begin allowing their youngest students to return to the classroom in February.
Deaths in Florida though – at 110 per 100,000 residents – have surpassed those in California, at 81 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The higher numbers, however, may reflect Florida’s older population.
Yet CDC data indicates that California’s death rate is gaining ground on Florida, with seven-day average daily deaths at 1.4 per 100,000 residents, compared to Florida’s 0.8 per 100,000. And as of Saturday, positive tests in California are also higher at 105 new cases per 100,000 to Florida’s 64 per 100,000.
California reached a grim milestone this week, with nearly 3 million coronavirus cases. The death from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County – an epicenter of the U.S. pandemic – works out to about one person every six minutes.
California’s hospitalization rates have also surpassed Florida, at 56 per 100,000 residents, compared with Florida at around 36 per 100,000 residents.
Fox News reached out to Newsom’s team for comment on the drastic differences but has received no reply so far.