A friend of mine on the East Coast of Florida wanted to rent a car for his daughter. Last month cars were going for $12 a day. Today those exact same cars are renting for $200 a day. That's part of Florida's crackpot Trumpist governor Ron DeSantis' giant-- and gigantically delusional-- victory lap, which he thinks will take him to the White House. It may get him to the dead-end known as the Republican nomination.
Yesterday at a press conference, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber declared a state of emergency in his city-- too many spring break revelers, ignoring pandemic safety protocols. There's an 8pm curfew and causeways into the city will be shut to non-residents.
Gelber was clear to the crowds that Miami Beach is not DeSantisville: "If you're coming here because you think anything goes, you're going to have a terrible time. We're going to arrest you. We've made hundreds and hundreds of arrests."
Today, Florida barreled past the 2 million cases mark, adding another 5,105 new cases and 63 new deaths. Even though DeSantis is running around the state claiming victory, there are 620,386 active cases in the state now and very dangerous spikes in one of the most contagious variants, B.126.96.36.199.
Citing the crowds, the Clevelander South Beach hotel said it was temporarily shutting down its bar and restaurant services.
"Recently, we have grown increasingly concerned with the safety of our dedicated employees and valued customers and the ability of the City to maintain a safe environment in the surrounding area," the hotel said in a statement.
Police Chief Rick Clements said his officers responded to multiple fights on South Beach on Friday night. Tables and chairs were used as impromptu weapons, according to the chief.
During Saturday's news conference, the mayor blamed some of the crowding on accessible travel.
"There are a lot of cheap flights," Gelber said. "Last month you could get here from Philadelphia, New York, or Chicago for $50 round trip."
Republicans are opening up way too fast. Florida, Texas and Mississippi have led the way but almost every red state is going right along with them. Yesterday, Idaho had it's own nightmare to deal with-- even apart from over 100,000 cases per million residents, a ghastly milestone. The state legislature was debating whether to forbid cities and counties from instituting social distancing and mask mandates, when a surprise vote came up-- whether or not to shut down the legislature itself so the legislators could run to their homes and hide from the pandemic they welcomed into the state with their policies.
AP reported that "at least six of the 70 House members [+ 2 Republican state senators] tested positive for the illness in the last week, and there are fears a highly contagious variant of Covid-19 is in the Statehouse.
Five of those who tested positive are Republicans and one is Democrat. Another Republican lawmaker is self-isolating. The chamber has a super-majority of 58 Republicans, most of whom rarely or never wear masks. All the Democratic lawmakers typically wear masks.
A major goal of GOP lawmakers in the Legislature this session has been curbing the emergency powers of the Republican governor to respond to things like pandemics. Legislators have floated several proposals that would restrict Gov. Brad Little’s ability to make sweeping directives in the future.
The House has also been advancing a bill that would ban local governments from requiring that people wear masks. Little, who wears a mask in public and encourages others to do so, has never issued a statewide mask mandate, but a handful of counties and about a dozen cities currently have such orders in place.
...During the recess, the lawmakers are expected to travel home to all parts of the state, potentially spreading the variant of the virus.
Dr. David Peterman, a pediatrician and CEO of Primary Health Medical Group, said Thursday that 30 percent to 40 percent of positive tests at the health group’s facilities in southwestern Idaho were the variant.
About 175,000 Idaho residents have been infected with the coronavirus, and more than 1,900 have died. But about 200,000 residents have received both shots of the two-shot vaccine, and another 125,000 have received the first shot. About 1.8 million people live in the state.
Yesterday, Idaho reported 235 new cases, bringing the state total to 177,420, of which 76,610 are currently active cases. States should wait until that blue line in the graph starts heading seriously down before opening up and pretending everything is hunky-dory.