A pro-life group in Florida is planning to hold its annual conference in six weeks as the state grapples with rising coronavirus cases. The conference is expected to host about 1,300 people, according to the Daily Beast.
Social distancing will be followed during the conference, which will take place at a hotel in Orange County, the group Care Net said, adding that this would be the "largest" pro-life conference in the US. However, wearing of masks will not be mandatory.
Currently, Orange County has made it compulsory for people to wear a mask in public. "Our hope is that this will be lifted by the time the conference starts. If so, masks will [be] recommended, but not required," the group posted on its website.
Care Net's Plans Facing Criticism
Care Net's plans to go ahead with the conference despite the growing number of coronavirus cases in Florida met with criticism. The reproductive rights group ReproAction started a petition urging the group to cancel the event. ReproAction's CEO Roland Warren said that this was not a time to "plan a gathering of followers from around the country to one of the hardest-hit states for this virus."
Gretchen Newman, an infectious disease expert at Wayne State University, reportedly said the conference was an "extraordinarily bad idea." "Overall, I don't think hosting this conference in person—and certainly not with the lack of clarity and lack of stringent planning for how to do this safely—is consistent with a life-affirming message," Newman told the Daily Beast. "This is not a pro-life message."
Florida is one of the hardest-hit states in the country with regards to the number of coronavirus cases. Over the weekend, it surpassed New York as the state with second-highest COVID-19 cases. So far, the number of coronavirus cases in Florida stood at 441,977. On Tuesday, the state recorded 191 deaths – its highest number of people to die in a single day. However, Floridians seem to unfazed by the grim numbers.
People Partying in Florida
According to Sky News, people in the state have been organizing parties flouting the social distancing guidelines. Police helicopter cameras reportedly captured large groups of people on the streets partying, drinking, and dancing.
However, Florida was not the only state where people did not follow social distancing. Over the weekend, electronic duo The Chainsmokers held a concert in Southampton, New York. Video clips of the concerts were circulated showed crowds of people flouting the social distancing guidelines. Some of the concertgoers did not even wear masks.
"Videos from a concert held in Southampton on Saturday show egregious social distancing violations," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted. "I am appalled. The Department of Health will conduct an investigation. We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health."