Florida Keys has a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases

By: Alan Domagala

                       (Photo provided by Health News Florida)

It’s that time of year again… tourist season. The Florida Keys have been experiencing a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases. Monroe County had 27 new cases over the weekend, and 31 new cases just on Monday. No new deaths have been reported, as of yet.

The Keys have a combined 75,000 in population, and so far there have been 2,080 new cases. Luckily, there have only been 25 deaths since the pandemic began. The main reason for this spike is like mentioned before, tourist season. “It’s cold up north and more people will be coming this way,” said Bob Eadie, the administrator of the Florida Health Department of Monroe County, “I cannot emphasize enough the importance to limit gatherings, especially ones where masks are not used.”

County leaders met up on Monday to discuss the issue, but they came to the conclusion that all they could really do was just urge people to follow the rules. They would probably fine people if they could, but county leaders have very little power in this field. “You have a limited ability to impose sanctions because the governor has limited your ability to impose fines on individuals,” said County Attorney Bob Shillinger.

However, Monroe still has the mandatory rule to wear masks inside and outside if you can’t social distance. “There’s a lot of pressure from people who say, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” Eadie said, “People need to wear face masks, maintain social distancing, wash their hands and get a flu shot to help stay safe.”

As for schools, they’ve been reopened since September 14 for students to come back to the classroom. Some students, however, aren’t too excited to return and risk getting sick. A total of 360 students in the district have switched over to Monroe’s virtual program, 16 have also signed up for Florida virtual school. As for cases, 14 students have tested positive, as well as two staff members and one teacher.

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