The executive order issued by Governor Ron DeSantis more than a year ago to declare a state of emergency due to COVID-19 finally expired over the weekend. The order had been extended several times in that span, enabling the state to qualify for federal aid and granting the governor extraordinary authority to spend money, countermand local ordinances and shift resources around the state without legislative approval.
Despite those vast powers, DeSantis wielded them lightly in comparison to most other state governors, and that restraint, coupled with Florida’s relative success in combating the virus while remaining open for business, has earned him national recognition as a possible challenger for the White House in 2024.
The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, but in Florida and most places in the United States, life is returning to normal, due in large part to an effective vaccination program that has suppressed transmission of the virus, reduced the number of serious cases, and in turn, substantially cut the number of related deaths. In Florida, the first cruise ship to leave a U.S. port in over a year sailed on the same day the emergency order expired. According to the Associated Press, the ship was only at 40% capacity, and nearly all 1,100 passengers were vaccinated against COVID-19.
Over the last seven days, an average of 31 people died from COVID-19, according to official state reports. Over that same span, 1,578 new cases were diagnosed per day in Florida, down substantially from the virus’s all-time high of 17,991 cases on January 8th.
Miami Dade county leads the state in vaccination rate, with 70 percent having received at least one dose of the vaccine. The state’s overall vaccination rate now stands at 57 percent, with just under 10 million Floridians now fully vaccinated and plenty of shots available for those who still need one.