By Team

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has begun to release regular reports on COVID-19 cases, vaccinations, deaths, and hospitalizations after the Florida Department of Health, under her political foe Gov. Ron DeSantis, switched to providing such information once a week.

Fried, the only Democrat holding a statewide office and a 2022 candidate for governor, said that the “people of Florida need and deserve access to regular timely updates as it relates to the ongoing pandemic, not secret meetings, or sporadic information sharing.”

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“The people of Florida need and deserve access to regular, timely updates as it relates to the ongoing pandemic. That is why I am holding regular briefings to provide needed information and coordination from the federal government, filling the COVID information sharing void that currently exists in our state,” Fried said.

As a statewide elected official and as head of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Fried has little direct control over the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She the data she’ll be providing is what was submitted by county health departments to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House Health Equity COVID-19 Task Force.

On Thursday, Fried said the state reported 16,038 new cases and 92 additional deaths on Wednesday.

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“Sixty-sixty of the sixty-seven counties in the state are listed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as being areas of high community transmission, with Glades County listed as having substantial community transmission.”

“The updated CDC guidance recommends that fully vaccinated individuals wear a mask indoors settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. So that means every single county in the state of Florida. This surge is real. We can and we will be able to stop the spread, of that I’m certain,” said Fried.

She said stopping the spread will require more people getting vaccinated.

“The message is very simple, get vaccinated, make smart decisions to protect your families, protect your communities, protect your customers, make sure that we are following the CDC science based guidance. And just be smart Floridians. We know what’s in front of us, we know what is here, we know how to stop the spread,” said Fried.

The Florida Department of Health in early June scaled back from releasing daily reports to weekly reports, as new cases and hospitalizations dropped. Also, the weekly reports provide less detailed information than the daily reports, which were posted for much of 2020 and the first half of 2021.

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