Washington, Jul 5 (efe-epa).- Local officials in the US states hardest hit by the renewed Covid-19 spikes – including Florida and Arizona – on Sunday are ascribing the resurgence in coronavirus cases to too-early economic reopenings, while the head of the agency tasked with approving a vaccine for the virus refused to set forth a schedule for its development despite the fact that President Donald Trump has said that one will be available before the end of this year.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez blamed the spike in cases on the reopening of bars and restaurants in an interview with ABC News.
There is “no doubt” that when Florida reopened people began socializing as if the virus never existed, the mayor said.
Suarez compared the need to wear facemasks to limit the spread of the virus to using seatbelts in automobiles. Many people have rejected wearing facemasks, arguing that it “limits their freedom.”
If someone has a car accident, there’s a good chance that they’ll survive if they’re wearing a seatbelt, he said, noting that it’s the same with a facemask and adding that if people wear masks in public there’s a good probability that society will be able to slow or halt the spread of the coronavirus.
In Miami’s case, using facemasks in public is obligatory and violators can be slapped with anything from a mere warning to fines ranging from $50 to $500, depending on the incident.
This stance contrasts sharply with that of Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Trump supporter who insists on the need to keep the economy active and has refused to make the use of facemasks obligatory statewide.
Florida is one of the new epicenters of the coronavirus in the US, and on Sunday the state surpassed 200,000 confirmed virus cases, adding 10,059 cases in the past 24 hours.
The Sunshine State is facing two critical weeks for local hospitals, which could be overwhelmed with patients if the virus cannot be contained, especially in populous southeastern Miami-Dade County, the epicenter of the pandemic in the state.
Since March 1, 3,731 people have died from Covid-19 in Florida and 200,111 have become infected, according to figures released on Sunday by the state health department.
Meanwhile, Phoenix, Arizona, Mayor Kate Gallego also said in an interview with ABC News on Sunday that the state reopened too quickly, adding that during the past month people between 20-44 years of age who had not followed the social distancing and facemask wearing recommendations were the ones who were becoming sick.
She said that authorities were seeing many asymptomatic people who had gone to big family gatherings infecting their relatives, emphasizing the difficulties health officials were having performing coronavirus tests throughout the state.
Gallego also criticized Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, for not having done the simple things that had been recommended to slow the spread of the virus.
She said, however, that Ducey had allowed the cities to order the use of facemasks and she believed that this will help mitigate the spread of the virus.
Arizona health authorities have confirmed at least 98,089 cases statewide so far, along with 1,809 deaths.
About 30 states have reported increases in infections in the last two weeks of June, as those states reopened their economies and allowed people to gather together again in public.
The US, which is the country that has suffered the most from the pandemic so far, more than 2.8 million people have been infected and more than 129,700 have died, according to the independent tally being kept by The Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the increase in infections during the reopening, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said that he was in favor of continuing with that plan, noting that although new cases are being registered, he believed that the reopening can continue “safely.”
He told Fox News that it is important that people take social distancing seriously and wear masks in situations when they cannot remain at least six feet apart from one another.
On Sunday evening, Trump said during a White House Fourth of July speech that the US could develop a vaccine against the coronavirus long before the end of the year and that the country was making progress along that road.