Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried hosted a moment of silence Wednesday to remember the nearly 45,000 Floridians who have died with COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 44,561 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon.
While the CDC still reports daily COVID-19 data for Florida, the state Health Department has reduced its reporting frequency to once a week. Fried now frequently reports the state data from the CDC, saying she’s doing the Governor’s job.
“We keep talking about these numbers that I report every single day, and there just needs to be a time when we sit back and we recognize how many of our fellow Floridians we have lost to this war,” Fried told reporters.
She noted the children, daughters, husbands, teachers, health care workers and more who have died as a result of the pandemic.
“Each of those losses is an unbelievable tragedy. These are our neighbors. They are loved members of our communities, our families, our churches and our schools,” Fried said in her remarks from the Cabinet Meeting Room.
The Commissioner, who is a Democratic candidate for Governor challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis, asked people to set aside the division in the country that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. She did not mention DeSantis during her broadcast remarks.
“We must grieve and remember together, as a collective,” Fried said.
But Fried did ask people to continue wearing masks and get vaccinated and to live with care and respect.
“I know that there’s nothing anyone can do that will bring these precious lives back. Please know that you are not alone. We are in this together,” Fried said.
Currently, the state is confirming record numbers of deaths each week. The number of COVID-19 deaths Florida reported over seven days through Sunday is more than ten times higher than what the state had reported in a single week as recently as early July.
Over the last three weeks, COVID-19 may have been the leading cause of death in Florida, surpassing heart disease and cancer. Florida averaged reporting more than 200 new COVID-19 deaths per day over that stretch of August — the worst period of mortality seen in the Sunshine State’s entire 18-month coronavirus pandemic.