Forced Restaurant Reclosures in Florida, California, New Mexico

Florida has been breaking all the wrong records this month, including an all-time high COVID-19 death count today. Congresswoman Donna Shalala said yesterday that “the virus is totally out of control in Florida” and “a lot more people are going to die.”

Miami’s ICU hospital beds are 62% full. The city’s COVID-19 ICU hospital beds are 108% occupied, meaning that there is already spillover to non-COVID-19 beds. Dr. Lilian Abbo, an infectious disease expert at the University of Miami, said today, “Miami is now the epicenter of the pandemic.”

Yesterday, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) closed all of its corporate dining establishments across Florida. KFC’s Chief Operating Officer Monica Rothgery is urging franchisees to follow suit. Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker is expected to sign an order today requiring restaurants to close and all alcohol and food service to cease from 11:00pm to 5am daily.

In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has closed indoor dining at restaurants, which had been permitted since June 1. She also closed indoor seating at breweries, which had been permitted since June 15. Governor Grisham’s only consolation was her intention to lift the restrictions by August 1. During the next two weeks, eating and drinking establishments may only operate carry-out, pickup and delivery services, and outdoor seating at no more than 50% capacity.

In California, Governor Newsom announced that effective immediately, all indoor operations in these sectors statewide: dine-in restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades), zoos/museums, and cardrooms. Additionally, bars, brewpubs, breweries, and pubs must close all operations both indoors and outdoors, statewide. “Our country must do containment of the virus if we’re to survive,” says one California resident.

Today, researchers at the National Institutes of Health announced that the first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.has delivered positive interim results. Over 20 vaccines are underway in animal and human tests around the world. In total, the coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 13.2 million people and killed more than 570,000 people this year. In the U.S.,135,235 people have died and 53,916 are currently hospitalized due to the disease.

Graphics by The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic (CC BY-NC-4.0) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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