JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New CDC reports warn that the B.1.1.7 variant of the COVID virus, or the ‘”U.K. variant,” could lead to a “rapid rise” in COVID-19 cases and become the dominant strain in the United States by March.
On Wednesday, health officials with the University of Florida spoke about the variant cases in Florida.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she wants Gov. Ron DeSantis to put a statewide mask mandate in place, especially as Spring Break quickly approaches.
“We need to hold on to the recent gains we’ve made and build on them,” Wasserman Schultz said Wednesday.
Officials also want people to continue to get vaccinated. The CDC said it could help the U.S. remain ahead of any variants.
“So far one in nine Americans have been vaccinated and we’re on track to have half the nation vaccinated by the end of this spring,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Wasserman Schultz said Florida is ground zero for the U.K. variant and said there has been a lack of transparency by DeSantis.
“Ron DeSantis just doubles down on that he’s not going to enact any more restrictions. He’s not going to do anything to make sure that we are being careful about how people move around the state. He’s continued to encourage large super spreader events to come to the state of Florida, without regard for how many people are actually going to come together at those large gatherings and that’s just dangerous,” Wasserman Schultz said.
DeSantis has repeatedly said that he doesn’t believe lockdowns are effective and that his priority is keeping the state’s economy running so residents can make a living, despite the pandemic.
Florida has reported more than 1.8 million cases of COVID-19, with nearly 30,000 deaths, since the pandemic began almost one year ago, according to the Department of Health.