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Ft. Lauderdale mayor warns young on 'sense of immortality' as Florida coronavirus cases spike

Chelsea Lombardo
Production Assistant

Florida’s younger citizens may be hoping for an active summer — but a record surge in the state’s novel coronavirus cases may have other plans for them.

This week, the Sunshine State notched its highest ever number of new COVID-19 cases, tacking an additional 9000 cases onto a confirmed statewide total of over 120,000. Broward County — home to Fort Lauderdale — has yet to emerge from its Phase 1 reopening as the virus swamps South Florida.

According to the state’s Department of Health, over 21,000 of those cases have been found in residents between the ages of 25 and 34 years old — marking the group as the state’s highest in distribution of cases. The rise mirrors a nationwide trend of new infections impacting age groups under 50.

Regardless of spiking cases among younger Floridians, that demographic still isn’t feeling vulnerable. It makes Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis think the Sunshine State may need a culture change.

“Amongst the younger folks, it's just this sense of immortality that they don't feel that they're going to get it and they don't feel they're going to suffer.” Trantalis told Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker on Thursday. “Let's just hope that's the case.”

There are over 2.4 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the median age of those testing positive for COVID-19 in the state has dropped significantly, falling from 65 years old in April, to under 30 in certain counties.

“There is always going to be a sector of our community that just doesn't think it's going to impact them,” Trantalis told Yahoo Finance.

“So the education part of this is really the focus now in my city and I think that once that is accomplished, we're going to see a reverse of those trends and hopefully get back into a level of normalcy,” he added.

Broward County faces trouble on the reopening front

People hold signs during a "Right to Work" rally outside of the Elbo Room bar , which remains closed, during the new coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Across Florida, bars were part of the Phase 2 reopenings that occurred earlier in June, except in three counties in South Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Like several other areas across the country, Broward has seen a spike in cases after lifting coronavirus lockdowns. According to the New York Times, Broward is second only to Miami-Dade for Florida’s highest case count.

“We've been doing pretty well for the first couple of months and unfortunately once we started opening businesses,” Trantalis stated. COVID-19 infections “seemed to have really skyrocketed.”

Phase 1 in Broward reopened select retail stores, restaurants, personal services and more. Yet prior to May 18, most non essential business in the county were forced to shutter their doors. With the contagion spreading rapidly, Phase 2 is likely off the table for now, Trantalis added.

The mayor downplayed the risk of returning to a lockdown, but added that while “I think we're going to keep in place what we have today... I do think that we need to be very careful.”

Fort Lauderdale is one of the many communities across the country attempting to strike a balance between public health and local economies, and Trantalis recognizes that.

“The economy is very important,” he said. “But at the same time we must look at the health of the community, not just the economic health but the physical health. Fortunately the death rate in Broward county has remained pretty low, even with the spike in new cases.”

Chelsea Lombardo is a production assistant for Yahoo Finance. You can find more of her work here.

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