Florida wants to set aside more than 6% of its next fiscal year budget to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and the 2021 hurricane season, while the state is experiencing a spike in cases and a vaccination campaign with long waiting lists.
According to a statement released Thursday by the Florida governor’s office, the total budget recommendation for fiscal year 2021-2022 is $96.6 billion, an increase of $4.3 billion over the current fiscal year.
Of that increase, $2.6 billion represents expenditures related to the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Floridians.
“Our state has been tested many times before and has always passed with flying colors. While our fight against COVID-19 has altered our economic landscape, Florida is on the road to recovery,” the governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, said in the statement.
The budget proposal includes key investments in education, environment, health and human services and public safety, the statement said.
Florida added 11,423 new coronavirus cases and 202 resident deaths Thursday, breaking a streak of four consecutive days with fewer than 10,000 new positives.
The hardest hit counties continue to be those in the southeast, with Miami-Dade County, the most populous, leading the way.
It added 2,004 confirmed cases and 29 deaths today, with totals since March of 366,127 and 4,797, respectively.
Neighboring Broward County also reported 1,038 new cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths from the disease today, with March totals of 169,691 cases and 2,069 deaths.
Both counties exceed the 7 percent daily positivity rate, according to the most recent report from the state Department of Health.
The new data also show that of the 92 cases in Florida of the new, more contagious B.1.1.7 mutation of the virus, 60 were located in the southern part of the state.
The variant of the coronavirus first discovered in the United Kingdom continues its advance in the U.S., where at least 293 such cases have already been reported, with Florida and California as the states with the highest numbers.
Florida reached today 1,687,594 cases of COVID-19 and 26,456 deaths since the pandemic was officially counted.
Vaccines in Florida
DeSantis hailed Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s Administration foresees a “modest increase” in the supply of vaccines against covid-19 for this state, but asked for more doses and “as fast as possible.”
The Republican confirmed that starting next week they will begin receiving 307,000 doses from the federal government, a figure higher than the nearly 260,000 that this state has been receiving.
According to official data, 1,446,580 people have been vaccinated so far, including healthcare workers and employees whose work offers a high risk of contagion.
Only 175,841 people have received the full two-dose treatment.
Thursday also saw the release of U.S. unemployment data, with a drop in the weekly number of claims for unemployment benefits.
However, Florida increased 18,598 claims in one week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.