The Covid-19 Outbreak Has a New Epicenter in the U.S.
(Bloomberg) -- Florida reported 21,683 new cases on Friday, breaking a daily record for the entire pandemic, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state’s previous one-day record was more than 19,100 in early January, according to CDC data. As the highly infectious delta variant has spread around the U.S., new infections in Florida have skyrocketed over the last month, from a low near 1,000 new daily cases last month.
Florida, the third most populous state, now accounts for about one in five new virus infections in the entire U.S., making it the country’s new epicenter for the outbreak.
The state reports publicly once a week, but more often to the CDC, and on Friday reported 110,477 cases for the previous seven days. Weekly cases in the U.S. were almost 545,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
The positive test rate of 18.1% is more than twice the national average of 7.8%. Florida currently has the highest daily hospital admissions of the entire pandemic, according to CDC data. New admissions rose more than 50% from the previous week, the data show.
Governor Ron DeSantis, considered a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024, has staked his record on keeping the state free from most virus restrictions, including mask mandates. On Friday he said he would sign an executive order that effectively would block Broward County, the state’s second largest that includes Fort Lauderdale, from reimposing a mask order indoors for students, teachers and school visitors.
“I just want to say, in Florida there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures,” he told supporters on Friday. “Floridians have been, are and will remain free to choose what’s best for themselves and their families.”
Some businesses have reimposed their own mask policies. Walt Disney Co., the world’s largest theme-park operator, is requiring masks again at all indoor locations at its parks in Florida, as well as California, after lifting it for vaccinated guests at the start of the summer as inoculations rose nationally. Ford Motor Co. also reinstated requirements for face coverings for some workers at facilities including those in the Sunshine State.
Earlier in July, Florida asked the U.S. Supreme Court to free the cruise industry from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “gauntlet of preconditions” necessary before ships can resume sailing, saying that the rules have already cost the state tens of millions of dollars in port revenue and other costs.
Read: End Cruise Industry Covid Limits, Florida Urges Justices
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