As the Trump administration and Republican state governments continue to pressure schools to reopen by the fall, three large states - Florida, California and Texas - have exhibited that such a drastic move could further overwhelm hospitals and lead to preventable deaths.
Florida-based newspaper Sun-Sentinel reported Thursday evening that the state had exceeded the 4,000-death threshold for the pandemic on July 9. Florida also logged a record daily total of 120 deaths related to the novel coronavirus on that day.
Nevertheless, Florida school boards are going to be required to "open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students” in August, according to an emergency order issued on Monday by Republican Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcora.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told PODCAST-19 host Anna Rothschild that Florida in particular has “jumped over a couple of checkpoints” when it comes to reopening.
"It's just disheartening because the selfishness of [not wearing a mask] versus the selflessness of my staff and the people in this hospital who are putting themselves at risk, and I got COVID-19 from this," Dr. Andrew Pastewski, an intensive care unit medical director at Jackson South Medical Center in Miami, Florida, told AFP.
"You know, we're putting ourselves at risk and other people aren't willing to do anything and in fact go the other way and be aggressive to promote the disease. It's really, it's really hard.”
On the US’ West Coast, California has recently seen back-to-back days of record death tolls related to COVID-19, according to San Jose, California, outlet Mercury News.
Data obtained on Thursday by the news organization continued the grim trend of the last week, with 135 Californians dead in a single day from the contagious disease, a death toll second only to Wednesday’s. An estimated 6,850 individuals have died from COVID-19 in California thus far.
In the South Central Region of the US, Texas state health officials reported a total of 105 new COVID-19 related deaths for Thursday alone, setting a record-high for the third day in a row, reported the Austin American-Statesman. Texas is now less than 100 fatalities away from the 3,000-person death toll mark.
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation on Thursday which, in an attempt to free up hospital beds, suspended elective surgeries in the medical facilities within several counties. The Statesman noted that this suspension was issued an hour before the state’s COVID-19 death toll was updated.
Despite these record numbers of deaths, a group of 11 GOP Texas lawmakers wrote Abbott to assert that the state has “drifted away” from its necessary system of checks and balances and should limit the broad powers granted to the governor under the Texas Disaster Act of 1975.
The lawmakers, who make up the “Texas Freedom Caucus,” argued that Abbott’s decisions “have caused families across the state to take massive financial hits, and in many cases caused businesses to permanently close their doors.”
“Day after day, constituents fill our inboxes, flood our phone lines, and address us in person, begging for some sort of guidance on what they should do to keep their small businesses open, maintain their sanity, and try at a semblance of regular life without fear of government penalty,” they wrote on Thursday.