The percentage positive of tests for COVID-19 has been on the rise recently in Monroe County. The 14-day average of COVID-19 tests is now more than 5 percent positive in the Keys. That's higher than rates on the South Florida mainland.
Five percent is a threshold that public health experts — and local governments — often use to gauge whether it's safe to ease restrictions.
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Monroe County children returned to classrooms in mid September. That's the same time bars reopened in the Keys. In late September, Gov. Ron DeSantis moved the whole state into phase three, allowing bars and restaurants to operate at full capacity.
"If you look around, you don't see the social distancing that you did see or that you were hoping for. And you don't see as much mask wearing," said Bob Eadie, administrator for the state Department of Health in Monroe County.
Eadie said the rise in cases is concerning. But he also cautions that small numbers make a big difference in Monroe County, which has a total population of 75,000.
"One case means a lot more for us, two cases means a lot more for us than it would in Miami-Dade or in Broward or in Palm Beach," he said. A few cases can move the percentages a lot more than they would on the mainland.
Since kids went back to classrooms in Monroe County, the school district has reported 12 cases of COVID-19, nine of them students.