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Florida Democrats seek more robust COVID-19 response

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives an update on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic during a press conference at Florida's Turnpike Turkey Lake Service Plaza, in Orlando, Friday, July 10. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives an update on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic during a press conference at Florida's Turnpike Turkey Lake Service Plaza, in Orlando, Friday, July 10. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP) (Orlando Sentinel)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Democrats are calling for drastic changes in the Florida’s coronavirus response after the state broke the national record for the most cases in a single day over the weekend.

In a recent television spot, they took aim at Gov. Ron DeSantis and accused him of downplaying the pandemic.

Speaking during a virtual news conference, State Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said the state needs to ramp up its response. “The longer we wait, the more difficult it’s going to be to implement these steps,” she said.

Mucarsel-Powell and other Democrats are calling for more testing and contact tracing. They also reiterated their call for a statewide mask order.

“If we don’t do the things and make the sacrifices and make the sacrifices now that we should have made months ago, we’re going to end up right back where we started,” State Sen. Oscar Braynon said.

Democrats also speculated without proof that the governor is attempting to achieve herd immunity, though he has never made any such statement. The governor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment on that accusation.

Dr. Aileen Marty, an epidemiologist at Florida International University in Miami, joined Democrats on the call. She said attempts at herd immunity in Sweden and Spain failed.

“We now know that most people who acquire it lose their immunity within a few months,” Dr. Marty said.

She also fears sending kids back to the classroom will only worsen the situation.

“You put children from different households in a normal brick and mortar school in a zone that has 25 percent positivity, you’re gonna have an increased transmission in the community,” Dr. Marty said.

Democrats argued if the state doesn’t make changes, it’s possible stay-home orders will once again be needed.

The governor has remained firm, saying he has no plans to change course.