MIAMI beaches will be closed for the Fourth of July as coronavirus cases continue to climb in Florida — while the governor of Texas admits he let bars reopen too soon.
Carlos Gimenez, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, said on Friday that after speaking with health experts, he has decided to close all county beaches from July 3 to July 7.
The closure, from Friday to Tuesday of the July 4th weekend, “may be extended if conditions do not improve” and people don’t wear masks and socially distance themselves.
“I have decided that the only prudent thing to do to tamp down this recent uptick is to crack down on recreational activities that put our overall community at higher risk,” he said in a statement.
On Friday, the Sunshine State reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases in its daily count — almost double the record set days before.
The state has since banned drinking alcohol while at bars, as health officials have linked much of the new outbreak to young adults gathering at bars without masks.
Bars, like restaurants, were supposed to limit patrons to 50 percent of their normal capacity, under the state’s emergency orders.
Patrons were required to sit at tables, with groups six feet apart and no gathering at the bar or on the dance floor was permitted.
Under the new order, bars are still permitted to sell alcohol in sealed containers for consumption offsite.
Restaurants that primarily sell food can still serve alcohol to customers seated at tables.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said he still has no plans to issue a statewide order to require people wear masks, as he said it’s best handled at the local level.
Miami, other cities, and several counties including Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Orange are requiring people wear masks in public places.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott admitted on Friday that he allowed bars to reopen too soon.
"If I could go back and redo anything, I would slow down the re-opening of bars,” Abbott, a Republican, said.
He said he regretted the decision because of "how quickly the coronavirus spreads in the bar setting."
“A bar setting in reality just doesn't work with a pandemic,” he added.
Earlier on Friday, Abbott ordered all bars to shut down again and restaurants to scale back dining.
In the last four days along, Texas has reported more than 23,000 new virus cases and on Friday, surpassed 5,000 hospitalizations for the first time.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said.
“The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”
The governor also ordered rafting and tubing outfitters on popular rivers to close, and required outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more to get approval from local governments.
Abbott has said that shutting down businesses was a last resort for him, but his latest decision shows how urgently the Lone Star state is scrambling because of the outbreak.
Abbott began lifting lockdown orders in May, and moved up his own timelines on some openings amid protests from conservatives.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, also a Republican, has also told residents to stay home and on Thursday declared the state “on pause” as hospitals accelerate toward capacity.
Last week, Ducey gave local leaders the power to require masks, while avoiding making it a statewide mandate.
On Thursday, he said coronavirus numbers “continue to go in the wrong direction.”
The US has reported more than 2.5million COVID-19 cases and more than 127,000 virus-related deaths.
On Friday, the country hit another record number of daily COVID-19 infections for the third day in a row as cases top 40,000, and the virus surged in six states.
California, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, Washington, and Utah have all experienced record highs.
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