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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at Florida State University on Aug. 11. Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Bars across Florida will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity next week, state officials announced late Thursday.

Why it matters: The number of daily cases in Florida has consistently decreased since reaching peak-levels in July, although fewer tests have been administered, per the COVID Tracking Project. Hospitalizations have also declined since late July.

  • The state averaged 2,531 infections per day over the past week, per the New York Times — a 24% decrease from two weeks ago.
  • Yes, but: The state recorded 213 new deaths on Thursday, the highest daily total in more than three weeks, per AP. Most states report COVID-19 deaths within 10 days, per the CDC.

What they're saying: "In meetings with hundreds of owners of bars and breweries across the state, I've heard their stories of struggle, and I've observed their serious commitment to making health and safety a continuing priority in their businesses," said Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said in a statement, per AP.

  • "It's time that we take this step, and it's vital that we start moving forward with this sector of our hospitality industry who have endured one of the toughest paths for sustaining a business during this pandemic," Beshears said, adding on Twitter that bars will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity starting on Monday.
  • Beshears' emergency order on Thursday that rescinded a previous order banning the sale of alcohol at bars was issued at the direction of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, AP reports.

Of note: NIAID director Anthony Fauci stressed this summer that closing bars, where people can congregate without masks, is crucial to slowing the spread of the virus.

Go deeper

Dec 19, 2020 - Health

CDC panel recommends Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

In this photo illustration, medical syringes seen displayed in front of the moderna's drug company logo. Photo: Konstantinos Zilos/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A CDC advisory committee on Saturday voted to recommend Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate for people 18 years and older, per CNN.

Driving the news: The recommendation comes a day after the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the vaccine.

Updated Dec 20, 2020 - World

21 million Brits enter Christmas lockdown to fight "new variant" of virus

Boris Johnson. Photo: Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images

About 21 million people entered full lockdown restrictions in London, southeast and eastern England and Wales Sunday to curb the spread of a highly infectious new strain of COVID-19.

For the record: The World Health Organization tweeted that it's in "close contact" with British officials on the variant, as the Dutch government introduced a ban on passenger flights from the United Kingdom, effective Sunday morning through Jan. 1, after finding a case with the same strain in the Netherlands.

Dec 19, 2020 - Health

General apologizes for "miscommunication" over vaccine shipments

Commander of US Army Material Command Gen. Gustave Perna speaking in the White House in May 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Army Gen. Gustave Perna, the member of Operation Warp Speed responsible for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, apologized on Saturday for the "miscommunication" with states over the number of doses they will receive next week, AP reports.

Why it matters: The general's apology comes after multiple governors said they were told that their states would receive between 25%-40% fewer vaccine doses than originally projected.