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Florida counties fight coronavirus surge by closing beaches, mailing out masks

Cases have been on the rise in Florida, which broke its statewide single-day record this week and then again on Friday.
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Amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases in Florida, all beaches in Miami-Dade County will be closed for the July 4 weekend, the county's top executive said Friday.

Beaches and parks will also be off-limits for public viewing of fireworks, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said in a statement. "Fireworks displays must be viewed from one’s home or parked vehicle," he said.

Gimenez said he will sign the order Saturday closing beaches July 3 to July 7.

"As we continue to see more COVID-19 positive test results among young adults and rising hospitalizations, 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," Gimenez said,

Florida is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases. The state broke its single-day record on Wednesday when 5,508 new cases were reported and then set a new high Friday when 8,942 cases were reported.

Image: Miami-Dade Beaches Reopen After Being Closed For Coronavirus Pandemic
Beachgoers take advantage of the opening of South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida on June 10, 2020.Cliff Hawkins / Getty Images file

Florida on Friday banned the consumption of alcohol at bars statewide in response to the rising numbers of cases, although bars had not yet been allowed to reopen in Miami-Dade and some other South Florida counties.

In Miami-Dade County, more than 30,100 cases have been confirmed with 946 deaths, according to the state health department. There were 1,528 new cases reported there Friday, which are cases through Thursday.

Gimenez' order will also ban any gathering, including parades, of more than 50 people "for whatever reason" from July 3 to 7.

In Palm Beach County, which is north of Miami, the mayor on Friday said that reusable face masks will be mailed to all 660,000 homes there.

The county bought 1.5 million reusable masks which will be mailed to every home in the county, County Mayor Dave Kerner said.

On Tuesday, the county government voted unanimously to mandate facial coverings, following protests and what Kerner called "a lot of passionate perspectives on both sides of the issue."

"What's not in dispute is that facial coverings and masks help stop the spread of COVID-19," Kerner said.

In Palm Beach County, there have been 12,498 cases with 490 deaths. On Thursday alone there were 650 new COVID-19 cases, Kerner said.

Statewide, there have been nearly 123,000 cases and more than 3,300 deaths, according to the state health department.

Miami-Dade County requires masks when indoors in businesses. Some cities in Miami-Dade County, including Miami, North Miami Beach and Hialeah, have also required masks to be worn in public places.

The Florida Department of Health recommends that all residents wear masks in public and keep their distance from others, but there is no statewide mask mandate.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was asked Friday at a news conference why there was no statewide mask requirement and he said, "we're going to continue to put out the guidance, and we're going to trust people to make good decisions."