ORLANDO, Fla. – The number of coronavirus cases in Florida continues to rise, with the state reporting 9,440 new cases on Tuesday, as well as 136 additional deaths.
The latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health bring the state’s overall total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases since the virus was first detected in the Sunshine State to 369,834.
On July 1, the Florida Department of Health began reporting resident and non-resident deaths as separate categories. The state reported a total of 134 resident deaths and two non-resident deaths in Florida on Tuesday, for a cumulative total of 5,319 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
On Tuesday, Florida’s daily COVID-19 positivity rate, which represents the number of people who tested positive for the first time divided by all the people tested that day and excludes those who have previously tested positive, stood at 13.62%.
The state also recently began reporting the number of patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19 through the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration dashboard. As of Tuesday morning, 9,443 people were receiving treatment at medical facilities across the state due to complications from the novel coronavirus.
Statewide, 16.26% of adult ICU beds were available, according to the dashboard.
Below is the state COVID-19 dashboard. If you are having trouble viewing the dashboard on mobile, click here.
Florida’s skyrocketing coronavirus death rate is now higher than any other state, edging out Texas, which has about 25% more people. Florida’s new deaths on Tuesday bring its daily average for the past week to 115, topping the 112 deaths a day Texas has reported during that time, Associated Press statistics show. A month ago, Florida was averaging 33 coronavirus deaths a day.
More than 3.1 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in Florida. About 19% of tests have returned positive statewide over the last week, compared to 10% a month ago and 2.3% in late May. The state reported that an additional 517 people have been admitted to hospitals with the disease. Overall, 21,780 Florida residents have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the virus hit Florida.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is participating in a round table discussion Tuesday afternoon to discuss the outbreak.
Due to the rising number of cases, the upcoming plan to have the Republican National Convention in Florida to renominate President Donald Trump continues to be on shaky ground. Even after the GOP announced plans to scale back the convention in Jacksonville and hold more events outside, the local sheriff said people’s safety cannot be guaranteed.
"Where we are today is we can't support this plan," Sheriff Mike Williams told local news outlets Monday. "Where do we go from here is a good question. But where we are today, we can't support it."
Williams added: "There's got to be some major reworking of what's happening."
Critics have complained that DeSantis has not mandated a statewide mask ordinance as cases rise. The governor has repeatedly said policies in hard-hit South Florida might not make sense in the Panhandle, where the infection rate is lower, even as his fellow Republicans increasingly acknowledge the need for a unified, nonpartisan message.
Speaking at blood center in Orlando, where he was interrupted by chanting protesters Monday, DeSantis said parents should be given a choice as to what is the best option for their children, whether virtual-learning, in-class schooling or a combination of the two. Schools also need to make health accommodations for employees too if they are high risk, the governor said.
"Parents need to choose the best environment for their students, their kids," the Republican governor said. "If a teacher doesn't feel comfortable there ... I think they should be given as many options as possible."
When asked about a Department of Education order requiring brick-and-mortar schools to reopen, DeSantis distanced himself from it.
"I didn't give any executive order. That was the Department of Education," DeSantis said. "Obviously, if you look at the epidemic, it's more severe in some parts than others, and I think you should recognize that."
Later on Monday, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran suggested that the state's emergency order merely restates current law that requires schools to "operate 180 days" a school year. Corcoran, a former state House speaker, works for the governor.
The order, he said in a statement, "did not order any new directives regarding the requirements of schools to be open," adding that "it simply created new innovative options for families to have the choice to decide what works best for the health and safety of their student and family."
DeSantis was at OneBlood to encourage people who had been infected with the virus and recovered to donate blood plasma that can be used in the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. During the news conference, a group of protesters interrupted DeSantis with chants of, "You're lying to the public."
"We will not be defunding the police. Don't worry about that," DeSantis said as deputies escorted some of the protesters outside the building. Once outside, the protesters banged on windows and shouted for several minutes, requiring the speakers to talk loudly over them.
The Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit Monday to block what it called the "reckless and unsafe reopening" of public school campuses for face-to-face instruction, arguing that doing so would put students and school employees at risk -- as well as accelerate the spread of the coronavirus.
"Governor DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one," said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. "The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control."
"Everyone wants schools to reopen, but we don't want to begin in-person teaching, face an explosion of cases and sickness, then be forced to return to distance learning," Ingram added.
The lawsuit, filed in state Circuit Court in Miami, names as defendants the governor, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Florida Department of Education and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Also on Monday, the Florida High School Athletic Association held an emergency meeting about whether to move forward with fall sports as planned. Despite a ruling from the FHSAA to allow fall sports to begin on schedule, Orange County schools will not permit practices to begin Monday due to concerns over the coronavirus.
Details on Central Florida school districts’ respective reopening plans can be found at ClickOrlando.com/backtoschool.
Here’s a county-by-county breakdown of coronavirus numbers in the Central Florida region:
|County||Total Cases||New cases||Deaths||Hospitalizations||New Hospitalizations|
With Tuesday’s numbers, Marion and Volusia counties set new records, reporting their highest number of cases in a single day. Marion County reported 171 positive cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, breaking its previous record of 164, reported Sunday and last Wednesday. Volusia County reported 233 new cases Tuesday, breaking its record of 229 new cases set on Sunday.
Polk County also set a new record Tuesday, reporting 90 new hospitalizations and shattering its previous new hospitalizations record of 22, which was just reported on Sunday.
The new numbers come one day after Orange County reported an 11% positivity rate, the lowest the county had seen in days.
Orlando Immunology Center has been chosen by the National Institutes of Health as one of 33 locations in the country to conduct the next round of trials for a coronavirus vaccine.
The trials will officially begin on Aug. 8, but OIC is actively recruiting volunteers now. Anyone interested in participating can click here for more information.
In Osceola County, commissioners voted Monday to fine anyone caught without a face covering $25. The move was made to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.