- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2020

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday pleaded with Floridians to avoid enclosed spaces and crowds over the Independence Day weekend, as the state posted over 10,000 cases of the coronavirus — a single-day high — ahead of a visit from Vice President Mike Pence.

“You’re much better being in the 95-degree heat than being in that closed space,” the governor, a Republican, said in Tampa.

Mr. Pence said the message is particularly important for young people. Many of those testing positive in Florida are in their 30s, leading to fears that younger people are crowding into bars and other tight spaces without taking precautions.

“I have three 20-somethings in my family, and I know the strong independent streak of young people. I know the desire of young people to socialize as we approach this Independence Day weekend,” Mr. Pence said. “[Heed] the guidance of practicing social distancing. Wear a mask if you’re not able to practice social distancing, or wear a mask if state and local authorities direct you to do so in the situation that you’re in.”

The younger demographic is less likely to die from the disease, but officials say they might pass the virus to a vulnerable person.

“No young person would ever want to unintentionally infect a mom, a dad, a grandmother, a grandfather or an elderly friend,” Mr. Pence said.

Mr. Pence is pledging federal support for Republican governors in Texas, Arizona and Florida who are dealing with a sudden and alarming spike in transmission and hospital visits. He visited Dallas on Saturday and Phoenix on Wednesday.

California is also seeing a surge in cases, leading Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to mandate masks statewide as counties close beaches and other gathering spots.

Florida set its single-day record for cases at midweek as the country as a whole reported its biggest daily caseload since the start of the pandemic, with over 50,000 cases.

So far, over 128,000 people in the U.S. have died from the disease that popped up in Wuhan, China, in December.

The surge in known infections is concentrated in Sun Belt states that were among the first to reopen after President Trump urged people to work and learn at home and avoid mass gatherings from mid-March to the end of April.

The rate of those testing positive is increasing in hot spots, leading experts to worry that the disease is spreading rapidly, and not just showing up because testing capacity improved.

Mr. Trump praised his administration’s response from the White House Thursday but acknowledged flare-ups in part of the country.

“We haven’t totally succeeded yet. We will soon,” Mr. Trump said. “But we haven’t killed all of the virus yet.”

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