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People walk along Pass-A-Grille beach in May, when beaches in Pinellas County reopened for the first time in six weeks. Photo: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration is considering whether to impose domestic travel restrictions, including on Florida, over fears that coronavirus mutations are threatening to reverse progress on the pandemic, the Miami Herald reports.

Why it matters: Citing unnamed sources, the Herald reports the new variants worry scientists and have lent urgency to a review of potential travel restrictions within the United States.

By the numbers: Florida leads the nation with the most cases of the infectious U.K. COVID-19 variant, known as B.1.1.7., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • The state has reported 343 cases — California is second with 156 cases — but the CDC says the number can be deceiving because the data is based on a sampling of COVID specimens, so it's not a total number of cases.

The big picture: Tourism is crucial for the state and local economy — 2019 saw a record 69 million visitors to Florida — but visits dropped dramatically in 2020.

Yes, but: There are positive signs that the industry is creeping back.

But, but, but: That could fall apart if the federal government restricts travel to Florida.

What they're saying: Any travel ban imposed on Florida "would be an outrageous, authoritarian move that has no basis in law or science," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wrote to President Joe Biden.

  • "Instead, it would only serve to inflict severe and devastating economic pain on an already damaged economy."

What they're also saying: "It would purely be a political attack against the people of Florida," Gov. Ron DeSantis said. "And it’s unclear why they would even try talking about that."

For the record: The unnamed officials told the Herald that no plans are imminent.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Feb 11, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

The COVID-sniffing dogs keeping Floridians safe

The COVID-sniffing canines (from left): Cobra, Mac, Hubble and One-Betta. Photos courtesy of FIU

If you want to see sports and concerts in person soon, you'll have a few four-legged MVPs to thank: Mac, Hubble, Cobra and One-Betta.

Why they matter: The coronavirus-sniffing canines, newly trained at Florida International University, have been put to work at Miami Heat games — and could soon be what it takes to get in-person events going in Tampa Bay.

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

6 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.