A number of Florida bars — including in Naples, St. Petersburg and the Orlando suburbs — have told customers that they are voluntarily shutting down their dining rooms because employees have tested positive.
The Galley, a St. Petersburg gastropub, said in a Facebook post that several staffers were quarantined, adding that it would reopen once it could test all employees. St. Petersburg’s mayor, Rick Kriseman, urged other businesses to also close if any of their workers get sick.
Florida reported its highest single-day number of cases since the outbreak began — 2,581 — on Saturday. The Department of Health reported another 2,016 cases of the virus on Sunday, and 1,758 on Monday, bringing the cumulative total to 77,326 cases and 2,938 deaths.
Dr. Lawrence Antonucci, the president and chief executive officer of the Lee Health hospital system in Fort Myers, attributed the increase in cases to the economic reopening. “This increase in the cases was expected as restaurants, businesses and beaches reopened,” he said on Thursday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has pushed back against the suggestion that the reopening that began on May 4 has led to the surge in the past week or so. He attributed the increase to expanded testing and outbreaks in agricultural communities, prisons and nursing homes.
In Pinellas County, Fla., which includes St. Petersburg, the chairwoman of the Board of County Commissioners, Pat Gerard, last week raised the specter of another clampdown on businesses to contain the latest outbreaks. “I think it’s only a matter of time before the public sees those numbers and starts emailing us that we need to shut down again,” she said during a board meeting.