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Floridians Take First, Hesitant, Steps Back To Public Life

On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a "full Phase 1" reopening of the economy, which includes gyms, starting Monday.
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Guests flocked to a theme park shopping district, a casino fired up its slot machines and businesses prepared for serving customers in Florida on Sunday, months after the coronavirus pandemic forced life to ground to a halt over health safety concerns.

During this flurry of activity, signs were everywhere that life had changed — and that people were clamoring to return to some semblance of normal.

In Orlando, it was the first weekend since Universal CityWalk reopened on Thursday. The Orlando Sentinel reported that visitors entered wearing obligatory face masks, having their temperatures taken by workers as stickers marked the 6-foot space required between guests.

The spinning Universal Studios globe at the far end of CityWalk was a typical selfie spot as guests flocked to take photos, many of whom removed their masks to flash their smiles.

Elsewhere, people ate at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. Tables were spread out to enforce social distancing guidelines, with some people not wearing masks so they can eat.

The paper wrote that people in the park followed the rules, and occasionally park employees had to ask some to put masks on properly. CityWalk had face coverings for sale at $6 apiece as well as hand sanitizer.

Inside restrooms, signs were placed above every other sink and urinal to enforce social distancing, and some food vendors had guests waiting outside to prevent crowding.

On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a “full Phase 1” reopening of the economy, which include gyms, starting Monday. Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure remain closed along with other central Florida theme parks as state officials and business leaders continue to evaluate before deciding when to reopen.

The Miami Herald reported that Miccosukee Resort & Gaming in Miami reopened its doors at 9 a.m. Sunday morning.

Those entering the casino must wear a mask at all times and have their temperature taken before entering. Only 500 people will be allowed in the resort, and there will be only one entrance and exit. Smoking will also not be allowed except for in designated areas. Guests must also wipe down each machine after each use. Disinfecting wipe dispensers have been installed throughout the resort.

Food buffets are still closed.

Other Miami-Dade county business may reopen Monday under rules set by the county's mayor — but with some new rules.

Stores may let customers try on clothes, but if someone does try something on, the garments must be set aside for 24 hours before they can be placed back on the shelf. There will be no more walk-in haircuts. Not all businesses can reopen Monday; according to the county's rules, massage businesses, tattoo parlors, pools and hot tubs, hotels and lodging, movie theaters, concert halls, gyms, bowling alleys, arcades, bars, nightclubs and a few others are prohibited from reopening, according to the Herald.

Just over 653,000 people in Florida have been tested for coronavirus as of Sunday afternoon.

According to state health statistics, there have been more than 45,500 confirmed cases in the state, and at least 1,973 deaths.

A Tampa Bay Times analysis published Sunday showed 83 percent of those who’ve died of the virus were over 65 years old. One in four people over 85 with a confirmed infection has died.

The percentage of deaths tied to care centers has been steadily increasing over the past several weeks, the paper reported. Now, at least 43 percent of deaths statewide can be attributed to long-term care facilities — a total of 875 lives lost.

The Florida Department of Health has not recorded any coronavirus deaths among children.

The youngest confirmed fatality is a 26-year-old man in Miami-Dade County. He had a history of alcoholic cardiomyopathy and died at a hospital after developing pneumonia caused by COVID-19.

The Times gathered records from medical examiners in 21 of the state’s 22 districts, accounting for 1,539 deaths. Separately, the Times received a copy of a master list of coronavirus-related deaths from the state’s Medical Examiners Commission.

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