SARASOTA, Fla. — Florida's agriculture commissioner is calling on the governor to declare a state of emergency as the state's one-day total of reported COVID-19 cases set a record since the start of the pandemic.
Nikki Fried, who has chided Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Health for stopping the once-daily count of COVID-19 cases and promised to do so herself, told reporters Monday afternoon during a news conference in Sarasota that it's time for DeSantis to issue an emergency order.
According to federal health data released Saturday, Florida reported 21,683 new COVID-19 cases -- the state's highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
"It is 21% of all cases nationwide," Fried said.
Florida also broke a record for hospitalizations Sunday, with 10,593 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The previous record was from July 23, 2020.
"Miami-Dade and Broward (counties) are seeing also the highest levels of admissions nationwide," Fried said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists 66 of Florida's 67 counties as having high levels of community transmission, while Glades County is listed as having substantial levels.
"Governor, Department of Health, what are you waiting for?" Fried said. "It is time, governor, to issue an emergency order. The people of our state need this information. We should be going back to daily reporting."
DeSantis has resisted mask mandates and vaccine requirements, limiting county and municipal governments from imposing their own measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Fried equated the state's lack of COVID-19 information to Floridians being told that a hurricane is coming and "we know that we have to evacuate, but we don't where the evacuation zones are, we don't exactly the tracking of this hurricane, we don't know the strength or severity of it, that we are left completely in the dark."
"That is exactly what is happening right now, which is why daily I'm trying to give as much information to the public," Fried continued.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate also pleaded with residents who haven't yet gotten vaccinated to "go out today, get the vaccine."
"We know how to get in front of this," Fried said. "Go get the vaccine. Make sure you're masking up indoors and socially distancing when you have the capability to do so."
Fried also spoke about more children testing positive and being hospitalized.
DeSantis signed an executive order Friday that could result in state funds being withheld from school districts that elect to enact a mask mandate in defiance of the governor.
"The governor should be doing what I'm doing, promoting vaccines, going across our state, having these real conversations with our communities that their numbers are through the roof, especially in our rural communities, not tying the hands of our local governments and our local school boards, who are just trying to do right by their people," Fried said.