Florida on Saturday reported 4,049 new coronavirus cases, another consecutive single-day record increase in cases. The number of statewide infections has surged to at least 93,797.
There have now been over 3,100 deaths in Florida due to COVID-19. The state has tested over 1.5 million people, according to its health department.
While Governor Ron DeSantis has attributed recent spikes to increased access to testing, many experts say the state’s rushed reopening plan following initial lockdowns may be to blame. In the nearly two months since DeSantis declared victory against the virus and announced Florida would begin reopening, there has been an explosion of new cases across the state.
DeSantis said in a press conference Saturday that many of the new positive tests are coming from younger, asymptomatic people. He did, however, note that the rate of infection appears to be “accelerating” among this group, which he called a “cause for concern.”
Experts at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania said this week the state has “all the markings of the next large epicenter.” They singled out Texas, Arizona and the Carolinas as other concerning states with high levels of community spread.
Their report said the risk in Florida “is the worst it has ever been in our projections.”
All of Florida, except for Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, is in the second phase of reopening. Bars and restaurants can operate at 50% capacity, and gyms, retail stores, museums, libraries and professional sports venues can operate at full capacity.
Major League Baseball, however, has decided to shut down all spring training facilities in the state. And many businesses have decided to voluntarily close after staff or patrons tested positive.
At a news conference in Miami on Friday, DeSantis said wearing face masks should be voluntary. In the same week, the Keys made mask-wearing mandatory until June 2021, CBS Miami reports.
“This has to be voluntary because the Constitution is not suspended just because there is a virus,” DeSantis said. “You do have a right to protest, you have a right to go to religious service, all these other things.”
People gather on the beach in Miami Beach, Florida on June 16, 2020. EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/Getty Images
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