Florida records largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases of any US state

12 July 2020, 17:54

Guests wear masks as required to attend the official reopening day of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World
Guests wear masks as required to attend the official reopening day of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Florida has recorded the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases in any US state since the beginning of the pandemic, with over 15,000 new positive tests.

According to state Department of Health statistics, 15,299 people tested positive for a total of 269,811 cases.

California had the previous record of daily positive cases at 11,694 four days ago, while New York had 11,571 on April 15.

The numbers come at the end of a grim, record-breaking week in Florida, with 514 fatalities.

On Sunday, 45 more deaths were reported.

Throughout May and into June, the state reopened much of its economy with some restrictions.

People are tested for COVID-19 at a drive through testing site in Orlando
People are tested for COVID-19 at a drive through testing site in Orlando. Picture: PA

Testing has increased but the percentage of people testing positive has risen even more dramatically.

A month ago, fewer than five per cent of tests came up positive on a daily average. Over the past week, the daily average exceeded 19 per cent.

Because of the increase in cases and the positivity rate, doctors have predicted a rise in deaths, saying the mortality rate usually increases two to four weeks later as some of those infected get sicker and eventually die.

Health experts are concerned that people are gathering in crowds, and have expressed concern that the Republican National Convention's nomination party for President Donald Trump will be held in Jacksonville in August.

On Saturday, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened at Walt Disney World in Orlando, concerning health experts who urge people not to gather in groups.

Guests at the park said people were wearing masks and social distancing, and videos showed near-empty parks.

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Florida governor Ron DeSantis said even with the rising rates, he still wants schools to reopen as scheduled next month.

"We know there are huge, huge costs for not providing the availability of in-person schooling," he said.

"The risk of corona, fortunately, for students is incredibly low."

University of Florida epidemiologist Dr Cindy Prins said about 143,000 tests were reported on Sunday.

"I still think we need to increase our testing a little bit more," she said, adding the state and local health departments should ramp up their contact tracing.

Dr Prins said she is still concerned about large crowds, gyms and some restaurants as being places of mass transmission.

Reports of illegal clubs and raves in South Florida is also a worry, she said.

"I really do think we could control this and it's the human element that is so critical," she said.

"It should be an effort of our country. We should be pulling together when we're in a crisis and we're definitely not doing it.

"I know people want to live their lives. There have been a lot of other times, people have made those sacrifices in order to benefit our society.

"It's almost like a war effort. That's what we need right now."