COVID-19 has finally hit home in Congress.
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) announced that one of his staff members passed away from the virus on Friday.
On July 15, Rep. Buchanan announced that Gary Tibbetts, his longtime staff member, tested positive for COVID-19. Per the statement, Buchanan and his other staffers had not been in recent contact with Tibbetts.
Tibbetts had been admitted to the hospital and was reportedly in stable condition at the time. His condition obviously worsened in recent days, and on Friday he passed away.
According to USA Today, Tibbetts is the first Congressional staffer to die from the coronavirus.
In a statement posted to social media, Buchanan wrote, “He touched so many lives and was loved and respected by those who knew him. I will never forget his uplifting spirit, sense of humor, and sheer joy at helping others.”
— Rep. Vern Buchanan (@VernBuchanan) July 24, 2020
The Florida surge
Florida is currently one of the biggest coronavirus hot spots in the country. As of Saturday, Florida has reported 414,511 confirmed cases and 5,778 deaths.
The state is now third behind California, 442,938, and New York, 439,088, in confirmed cases.
However, New York remains, by far, the state with the most deaths from the pandemic.
Due to the recent surge, the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville was canceled by President Donald Trump, as he did not want to risk putting anyone’s health at risk by holding such a large event. Jacksonville is one of the areas hit hardest by this recent surge.
As states continue to reopen, we can expect these numbers to climb higher still. The key, however, is in controlling the mortality rate and hospitalizations, something most states have been able to do as we move forward.