ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida coronavirus cases jumped by 2,000 over two days, according to the latest Florida Department of Health numbers, as local and state officials warn the worst is yet to come and residents prepare to stay at home beginning Friday morning.
By Thursday morning when the DOH released the latest confirmed COVID-19 cases, there were 8,010 total cases between residents and visitors who tested positive in the Sunshine State. By the next update at 6 p.m., coronavirus cases had reached 9,008, marking two days in a row with substantial surges in positive test results.
The death toll also grew Thursday, reaching 144. Now, more than 1,160 people statewide are hospitalized with severe cases of the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Some of those recent fatalities were reported in Central Florida, including deaths in Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk and Sumter counties. Seventeen people in the region have died due to complications from COVID-19 as of Thursday evening.
With new cases continuing to grow, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Wednesday instructing people in the state to stay “safer at home." That order, which requires Floridians to stay home unless they are going out for essential goods and services, begins Friday at 12:01 a.m. and lasts until April 30.
Local officials in Brevard and Volusia county announced closures and restrictions to beach access ahead of the stay-at-home order. Brevard is restricting access to locals only and closing down the county to tourists meanwhile Volusia County officials will shut down the beaches county-wide. Most other coastal counties have closed public beaches, including Flagler County.
President Donald Trump extended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus prevention guidelines earlier this week for another 30 days, meaning this new reality of social distancing in the U.S. is here to stay.
In Central Florida, where Orange and Osceola counties have already been under stay-at-home orders, cases also continue to grow steadily as health officials warned they would. There are more than 500 cases in Orange County alone, including five deaths.
Two additional fatalities were reported in Osceola County on Thursday, as well as in Sumter County, according to the DOH.
Here’s the latest breakdown of local cases:
COVID-19 is highly contagious and spread from person-to-person. According to the CDC, the best way to slow the spread is to stay away from other people and observe social distancing.
Worldwide more than 1 million people have tested positive for the virus that has claimed more than 50,000 lives, according to the World Health Organization.