Despite the federal guidelines stating that states must see a 14-day decline in numbers, Florida has pushed ahead with reopening businesses and schools, most prominently Disney World. An average day at the resort sees nearly 250,000 visitors per day across its parks, according to the OC Register, citing the Themed Entertainment Association.
All of Disney’s Orlando parks closed in mid-March as the pandemic started to spread across the country. Now, they are set to re-open Saturday with a set of new safety measures intended to prevent further spread of the virus.
In addition to mandatory masks and social distancing, visitors will need reservations to enter the park. To even enter the park, guests and employees will need to pass a temperature check, and they won’t be allowed to hop between parks.
Fireworks shows and parades have been suspended to prevent drawing too many people together.
As Disney pushes to reopen under Florida’s guidelines, the state continues to struggle with its rapidly deteriorating response to the pandemic. While the picture looked more positive in May, with the average daily deaths down to around 33, that number has almost doubled, and the state has twice recorded over 11,000 new cases in a single day.
The most cases recorded in a day was on July 4 when Florida reported 11,458 new cases across the state. On July 10, the state reported 11,433, and July 9 the state recorded 120 deaths in a single day - its record highest count so far.
When he made the decision to reopen much of the state in May, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that infections “had very, very low prevalence,” especially in the northern parts of the state.
“There was no justification to not move forward,” the Republican governor said on Friday, adding that hospitals across the state have between 10,000 and 13,000 available beds amid reports that some hospitals are near capacity. “We have a situation where you got a lot of beds available. No major system, nobody that we’ve seen yet, has even gone to the surge level.”
Other states that have seen huge surges of cases have either paused their reopening plans or outright reinstated lockdown measures to combat the spread.
“One size does not fit all in Florida,” said his spokeswoman, Helen Ferre, who also cast doubt on the effectiveness of mandates, noting that the Miami area has had face-mask rules in place since April, yet the area continues to be a COVID-19 hot spot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.