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Florida surgeon general says social distancing may be necessary for a year

Social distancing may need to continue for a year until a vaccine for coronavirus illness COVID-19 is developed, claimed Florida’s surgeon general before he was taken from a press briefing by a spokesperson for the governor. 

Dr. Scott A. Rivkees warned Monday that it could take up to a year to develop a vaccine and preventative measures would be needed until that time. 

After his comments, the surgeon general was approached by a spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis and left the room. Gov. DeSantis was criticized for being slow to implement social distancing guidelines in the state because he was concerned about the effects on the economy.  

Florida, an outbreak hotspot, had more than 21,000 cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday morning and 499 deaths. 

Dr. Rivkees’ comments came as the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged the nation to remain at home, stating that the positive effects of social distancing were being seen. 

 

Gov. DeSantis’ spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré approached the surgeon general Dr. Scott A. Rivkees after his comments and he left the room with her. Social media users asked if it was because the governor wants to lift guidelines but Rickees’ spokesperson said he had a meeting

The ticketing area is empty at Orlando Sanford International Airport. Florida surgeon general Dr. Scott A. Rivkees warned Monday that social distancing must continue

The ticketing area is empty at Orlando Sanford International Airport. Florida surgeon general Dr. Scott A. Rivkees warned Monday that social distancing must continue 

Members of the Florida National Guard assist medical personnel at the COVID-19 drive-thru swab testing site. The state now has more than 21,000 coronavirus cases and 499 deaths

Members of the Florida National Guard assist medical personnel at the COVID-19 drive-thru swab testing site. The state now has more than 21,000 coronavirus cases and 499 deaths

The removal was highlighted on social media with some questioning if it was as a direct result of his comments. The surgeon general's spokesperson said he had another meeting

The removal was highlighted on social media with some questioning if it was as a direct result of his comments. The surgeon general’s spokesperson said he had another meeting

Cases in Florida have consistently increased by 1,000 new cases a day in the past week, a plateau in an outbreak that was seeing cases numbers double by the day in late March. 

‘We are at a plateau but we cannot emphasize enough that we cannot let our guard down at this present time,’ Dr. Rivkees said Monday during a press briefing. 

‘Until we get a vaccine — which is a while off — this is going to be our new normal and we need to adapt and protect ourselves.

‘As long as we’re going to have COVID in the environment, and this is a tough virus, we’re going to have to practice these measures so that we are all protected.’

After he spoke, Rivkees was approached by DeSantis’ spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré and he left the room shortly afterward. 

The move was highlighted on social media with some questioning whether the surgeon general was removed because his comments were in conflict with the governor’s desire to reopen. 

‘This is Florida’s Surgeon General being removed from a #COVID19 briefing by @GovRonDeSantis staff right after saying we’ll need to social distance until there is a vaccine,’ wrote former Obama spokesperson Kevin Cate. 

Rickees’ spokesman, Alberto Moscoso, told the Tampa Bay Times that he left to attend a prescheduled meeting with DeSantis’ Deputy Chief of Staff, Adrian Lukis.

The state’s governor Ron DeSantis has been criticized for not acting sooner to implement a stay-at-home order. The 30-day order was only announced in the state on April 1. 

There are 21,019 coronavirus cases in Florida and there have been 499 fatalities. It has the 8th most cases in the United States, accounting for 3.57 percent of the national total.  

The state reported its most deadly day on Friday with 50 new deaths but the surgeon general says the number of news cases has hit a plateau. 

Florida’s fatality is at 2.4 percent, lower than the national rate which is currently 4 percent.  

Cases in the state have doubled since April 3, with around 1,000 new cases being reported a day. 

As of Monday, 197,000 people in the state had been tested and 10.5 percent were positive for coronavirus. 

Of the 2,841 hospitalized, 650 have needed ventilators in the ICU. The state has 7,000 ventilators available. 

There have been no recovery cases so far.  

Orange County has been one of the hardest hit where there are 1,024 cases and 13 deaths. 

According to the model created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is often cited by the White House, Florida is still 22 days from the peak of its deaths from the outbreak. 

The peak is expected to hit on May 6 when 128 daily deaths are projected.   

Dr. Rivkees comments came as US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams said cases in hot spots like New York, New Jersey and New Orleans appeared be leveling off.

A street normally busy with traffic is empty as large numbers of people stay home in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic on April 7 in Florida. The state's surgeon general warned residents that guidelines could be in place for as long as a year until a vaccine is found

A street normally busy with traffic is empty as large numbers of people stay home in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic on April 7 in Florida. The state’s surgeon general warned residents that guidelines could be in place for as long as a year until a vaccine is found

Members of the Florida National Guard assist medical personnel at a COVID-19 drive-through swab testing sit on Monday as the state's coronavirus cases hit over 21,000

Members of the Florida National Guard assist medical personnel at a COVID-19 drive-through swab testing sit on Monday as the state’s coronavirus cases hit over 21,000

He said cases in California and Washington, which is where the US outbreak first took hold, appeared to be stable amid the pandemic. 

‘In the midst of tragedy, there IS hope,’ Dr Adams tweeted on Monday. 

‘Social distancing and mitigation IS working. There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel, so keep at it.’ 

Sweeping stay-at-home restrictions to curb the spread of the disease, in place for weeks in many areas of the country, have taken a painful toll on the economy, raising questions over how the country can sustain business closures and travel curbs. 

 In Florida, Gov. DeSantis had been reluctant to issue a stay at home order in the state because of concerns of the effects on the economy and on residents’ mental health.

On Friday Surgeon General Jerome Adams was met with outrage by the black community for using phrases like ‘abuela’, ‘big momma’ and ‘poppop’, while pleading for minorities to not drink or smoke and follow the government’s guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus . 

‘We need you to do this if not for yourself than for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy, do it for your big momma, do it for your poppop,’ the nation’s top doctor said Friday at the daily coronavirus taskforce briefing –  while also advising those groups to ‘avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs.’

Adams told Americans of color that they need to ‘step up’ to stop the spread of coronavirus, and said ‘social ills’ are likely a contributing factor when looking at the dire statistics that the outbreak has killed twice as many black and Latino people than white Americans.  

Members of the black community are calling out the Surgeon General for ‘pandering’ to them with his use of slang and also for his ‘offensive’ instruction that those specific communities to stop drinking and smoking during this pandemic.

US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams said cases in hot spots like New York, New Jersey and New Orleans appeared be leveling off but urged to public to continue social distancing

US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams said cases in hot spots like New York, New Jersey and New Orleans appeared be leveling off but urged to public to continue social distancing

Adams was met with immediate push back for his comments later in the briefing when PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor asked him to respond to those who might have been offended by his colloquialisms.

‘We need targeted outreach to the African-American community and I used the language that is used in my family,’ Adams said. ‘I have a Puerto Rican brother-in-law, I call my granddaddy ‘granddaddy’ I have relatives who call their grandparents big momma.’ 

‘That was not meant to be offensive,’ he added. ‘That’s the language that we use and I use and we need to continue to target our outreach to those communities.’

Alcindor also pressed Adams on why he mentioned drugs and alcohol, when talking specifically about communities of color. 

‘All Americans need to avoid these substances at all times,’ he said. 

As of Tuesday morning, there were more than 588,000 cases in the U.S. and there have been 23,649 deaths. 

Food and Drug Administration chief Stephen Hahn said Sunday the United States appears to be ‘very close to its coronavirus peak’. 

‘The models do show that we are very close to the peak. So I think that information is accurate’, the FDA commissioner said Sunday. 

Hahn said May 1 ‘is a target’ in terms of lifting the nationwide lockdowns but also warned: ‘This has been a really fast-moving outbreak, so we really have to take this day by day. I think the public safety and the welfare of the American people has to come first.’ 

Graphs created by researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics shows the country is two days away from its peak when 1,983 deaths are projected.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk