TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Fried held a moment of silence Wednesday to pay somber respects to the nearly 45,000 Floridians who have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Aside from the occasional camera shutter, the Cabinet room was silent for a full minute.
“Let’s honor their lives by living ours with care and with respect for our neighbors and for our communities,” said Fried.
Fried said she felt it was important to recognize the lives lost in what she described as “a war.”
“We’ve got to do this together to get through this pandemic and make sure that we are utilizing all the tools in the shed. That’s masking up. That’s getting the vaccine,” said Fried.
The ceremony came the same day as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported four additional pediatric deaths in Florida. It’s a 17% jump from the week prior, bringing the total to 27 Florida children lost since the start of the pandemic.
“That’s heartbreaking that we’re losing our children,” said Fried.
Fried renewed her appreciation for school districts mandating face masks, in defiance of the state.
“I’m just proud of them for sticking up for our kids and for their safety,” said Fried.
But so far in the school year, Capitol News Service’s analysis of student case rates based on numbers posted to 10 districts’ COVID-19 dashboards with varying masking policies yielded no clear patterns.
Still, Fried is encouraging parents to mask up their children.
“We’ve got to do everything we can,” said Fried.
In what may feel like a never-ending wave of COVID-19, there is a glimmer of hope.
For the first time since Aug. 7, the state’s seven-day rolling average of daily cases has dropped below 20,000.
Florida’s hospitalizations have also dropped from a peak of 16,579 patients down to 15,562 statewide.