Duval County

Recent White House COVID-19 Task Force report says Florida should close bars, gyms, restaurants

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — In the final White House Task Force report under President Donald Trump to the State of Florida, health experts recommended Florida take mitigation actions to slow the spread of the virus.

CORONAVIRUS LOCAL IMPACTS: Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival canceled for 2nd year in a row

The report describes Florida as a ‘red zone for cases.’

“… The situation remains unstable and Florida should mitigate to contain ongoing community spread,” the report stated.

The report, dated Jan. 17, was the ‘... last state report from the team of Birx, Zaidi, Vitek, Cavanaugh, and Crabtree.’

It listed several recommendations for slowing the spread, including closing some businesses’ indoor spaces if masks cannot be worn 100% of the time.

“During increased community spread, any indoor space where masks cannot be continuously worn must be substantially curtailed or closed; this includes bars, indoor dining, gyms, etc. As any unmasking indoors creates viral spreading events,” the report states.

The report praised winterized outdoor dining as another option.

Other recommendations include using granular data to take immediate action, mandating masks, reminding the public indoor gatherings are considered ‘key viral spreading events,’ testing proactively, and proactively vaccinating the most vulnerable.

QUICK LINKS: How to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in the Jacksonville area

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry had this to say about the recommendations.

“To that question about the coronavirus task force recommendations, it’s important that people know that this isn’t an us against them thing. This is their opinion, their expert opinion, there are other experts that have other opinions,” said Curry.

Curry said he believes businesses and schools in the Jacksonville are operating responsibly.

“I believe that our superintendent and our teachers are doing that responsibly, and I think that’s important. I think people are working in a responsible way,” said Curry.

Businesses tell Action News Jax closing indoor spaces for extended period would have severe economic businesses on their revenues.

COVID-19 VACCINE HELP: Jacksonville: Here’s how to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose at Mandarin, Lane Wiley senior centers

Those we spoke to say they believe in wearing masks but worry what another shutdown could mean for the economy.

“I think that really hurts all businesses, especially the communities that they’re in,” said Leslie Delaserna of Jacksonville.