On Sunday, state health officials confirmed 15,299 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, a new record for the largest number of new cases in a state in a single day.
Florida has now surpassed New York’s record of 11,571 cases of coronavirus reported on April 14, when the state was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Sunday, the Sunshine State’s health officials confirmed 15,299 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, setting a grim new record for the largest number of new cases in a state in a single day since the start of the global pandemic.
According to data from the state’s Department of Health, Florida’s average daily positive test rate of 14.2 percent over the last seven days was substantially above the target 10% recommended by health experts for reopening businesses and other public spaces.
In May and through June, when Florida reopened part of its economy, the number of positive cases started rising. In the past week alone, the state reported a record-breaking 514 deaths, an average of more than 70 fatalities per day. And on Sunday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez told CNN that the county’s hospitals are reaching capacity, with 94% of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds occupied. In fact, according to overall hospital data released by the state, at least 56 Florida hospitals in 25 different counties have reached full ICU capacity.
But despite these climbing numbers, state Gov. Ron DeSantis remains unmoved in his belief that schools should reopen next month as scheduled, going so far as to say he’s “confident if you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools,” CNN reported.
The reasoning, according to DeSantis, is that children have not proven to be vectors for the disease in states and countries where schools are open. Yet more than 7,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida, potentially exposing adults—who may be more vulnerable to the illness—to the coronavirus.
Democrats’ Urgent Call to Action
In response to the alarming spike in new cases of COVID-19 in the Sunshine State and DeSantis’ push to reopen schools, Florida Democratic lawmakers are calling on the Republican incumbent to take immediate action to stem the spread of the illness that so far has claimed 4,277 lives in the state.
Miami Congresswoman Donna Shalala, who is calling for a 14-day statewide stay-at-home order, sent a message to DeSantis in a scathing tweet:
“This will be hard, but if you didn’t want to make hard decisions you shouldn’t have run for office,” wrote the congresswoman.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman on July 7 joined her congressional colleagues, including Donna Shalala and Ted Deutch, to demand Gov. DeSantis issue a statewide order requiring masks in public, as DeSantis has resisted pleas by state and health officials to mandate the wearing of face masks. According to scientists, this is vital to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Rep. Lois Frankel called on DeSantis to “stop using Donald Trump’s dangerous & foolhardy #COVID19 rhetoric of “we just have to deal with it” and start telling Floridians the truth: We need a statewide mandate to wear masks to keep Floridians safe!.”
For his part, on Monday Florida State Coordinator Thomas Kennedy announced via Twitter he interrupted a press conference to confront De Santis and Gimenez over their their handling of the COVID-19 epidemic devastaitng the state.
Silence from DeSantis
But even as they press for a 14-day stay-at-home order and a statewide mask requirement from the Republican governor to slow down or halt the spread of the virus, state Democrats say they haven’t had so much as a conference call with the governor since the pandemic began.
And as further proof that Florida is not slowing down, on Saturday the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened at Walt Disney World in Orlando, despite strong warnings from health experts who have urged people not to gather in groups.