COVID-19 cases still falling in South Florida amid ongoing fight over school mask mandates

Portrait of african american boy wearing face mask sitting on his desk in class at elementary school
Cases in each of the region's three major counties are down about 20% week-to-week.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to drop across South Florida’s tri-county area as the legal wrangling continues regarding the Governor’s ban on school mask mandates.

Each of South Florida’s three major counties — Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — have installed mask mandates in defiance of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order blocking school districts from forcing students to mask up.

Earlier Friday, an appellate court reinstalled DeSantis’ directive blocking school mask mandates. A lower court had ruled against the Governor. But Friday’s order held that while the Governor appeals the case, his executive order should stand.

The back-and-forth continues as cases drop from sky-high totals seen during the summer surge in South Florida. Cases in each of the region’s three major counties are down about 20% week-to-week. That’s a slightly smaller drop than last week, but it continues a promising trend, which began in mid-August.

Still, cases remain at levels seen in early- to mid-July. Totals are still well above where they sat before cases started skyrocketing over the summer. Case counts will need to fall significantly before they reach the troughs seen in late May and early June.

That leaves concern for parents, whose children may not yet be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine while attending school. It’s unclear when the case surrounding mask mandates will be resolved or how severe the outbreak may be at that point.

DeSantis has opposed mandating masks, arguing parents should make that decision for their kids. His administration has also pointed to data showing children are less susceptible to the worst effects of COVID-19.

But School Board members in South Florida’s three major counties have taken a more aggressive approach in trying to stem the virus’s spread, as infected children can still pass the disease along to someone more vulnerable.

DeSantis has sought to withhold salaries of school officials who have disobeyed his executive order. The Joe Biden administration has promised to make up any such funding gap, however.

Here are some of the weekly numbers for the previous three weeks throughout the South Florida tri-county area:

Miami-Dade

— Aug. 20-26: 16,706 newly confirmed cases, 10.4% positivity rate, 32,560 vaccine doses administered, 86% of 12-and-up population now vaccinated

— Aug. 27-Sept. 2: 12,163 newly confirmed cases, 8.1% positivity rate, 28,310 vaccine doses administered, 88% of 12-and-up population now vaccinated

— Sept. 3-9: 9,733 newly confirmed cases, 6.5% positivity rate, 23,003 vaccine doses administered, 89% of 12-and-up population now vaccinated

Broward

— Aug. 20-26: 11,664 newly confirmed cases, 12.9% positivity rate, 17,331 vaccine doses administered, 77% of 12-and-up population now vaccinated

— Aug. 27-Sept. 2: 8,949 newly confirmed cases, 10.5% positivity rate, 16,090 vaccine doses administered, 78% of 12-and-up population now vaccinated

— Sept. 3-9: 7,108 newly confirmed cases, 9.4% positivity rate, 13,061 vaccine doses administered, 79% of 12-and-up population now vaccinated

Palm Beach

— Aug. 20-26: 8,595 newly confirmed cases, 13.9% positivity rate, 11,792 vaccine doses administered, 71% of 12-and-up population now vaccinated

— Aug. 27-Sept. 2: 6,863 newly confirmed cases, 12.6% positivity rate, 10,919 vaccine doses administered, 72% of 12-and-up population now vaccinated

— Sept. 3-9: 5,548 newly confirmed cases, 11.6% positivity rate, 8,114 vaccine doses administered, 72% of 12-and-up population now vaccinated

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]


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