Cases of coronavirus are so high in Florida that if the state were a nation, the U.S. “would have to consider banning travel” from its residents, an infectious disease expert has said.

Speaking to CNN, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said there are only more cases of Covid in Louisiana and Botswana.

“The viral load in Florida is so high right now, there are really only two places on the planet where it’s higher,” he said.

“It’s so high in Florida that I think if Florida were another country, we would have to consider banning travel from Florida to the United States,” he added.

His warning comes as infection levels in Florida have risen 51 per cent in the last seven days, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The state reported 134,506 new Covid-19 cases from 30 July 30 to 5 August, more than any other seven-day period.

Meanwhile, Ron DeSantis, the governor of the state recently banned vaccination and mask mandates, option to allow individuals to decide whether they take these measures, despite a backlash that saw him being sued by parents who argued he is violating a provision of the state constitution that requires public officials to ensure schools are safe for students.

Reiner said that DeSantis has “painted himself into a corner” with his hard-line opposition to safety measures. “People are dying in Florida. It’s going to get much worse,” he warned.

In another court decision, a U.S. district court judge granted a temporary injunction saying that the governor can’t stop Norwegian Cruise Lines from requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination.

“It’s scary what’s happening in Florida,” Derek Shaffer, an attorney for the cruise company, said during a court hearing Friday, reported CNBC. “All of Florida is a hot spot ... All we’re doing is trying to protect our staff and passengers.”

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