Protests continue, Universal in soft reopening as Florida reports 1,317 new cases of COVID-19

State reports 1,317 new cases, 36 new deaths Wednesday

Demonstrations following the death of George Floyd took a dangerous turn in downtown Orlando.
Demonstrations following the death of George Floyd took a dangerous turn in downtown Orlando.

The state of Florida is in for a month of uncertainties as a pandemic continues, civil unrest flares, theme parks prepare to reopen and hurricane season heats up with vigor.

With so many variables mixing together, it’s unclear if June will be the month where Florida sees its curve of COVID-19 cases at its flattest, or if cases will spike as thousands take to the streets, in close proximity to one another, to protest the death of George Floyd.

Tuesday saw one of the largest numbers of reported deaths, with 70 newly reported fatalities, since the novel virus was first reported in the state on March 1.

The Florida Department of Health reported an increase of 1,317 new cases Wednesday, as well as 36 new deaths.

These new statistics bring the total number of coronavirus cases to 58,764 since the beginning of March, as well as a total of 2,566 deaths due to the novel respiratory illness.

Since the beginning of March, 10,525 people have required hospitalization for severe cases of COVID-19.

Florida does not release virus recovery numbers or current coronavirus hospitalization numbers.

Polk County reported the most resident deaths related to COVID-19, with 60 people succumbing to the virus as of Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s how cases of COVID-19 breakdown county-by-county in Central Florida:

CountyTotal casesTotal deathsTotal hospitalizations

Universal Orlando opened its attractions and hotels to a select few guests Wednesday, allowing some annual pass holders into its parks.

The theme park will open to guests on Friday with increased safety measures like mandatory temperature checks and face mask requirements.

Earlier in the week, employees were seen testing rides at the parks and using the wave pool at Volcano Bay.

Last month, CityWalk did a phased reopening to the public.

The Wheel at ICON Park is scheduled to reopen Wednesday as well, bringing back the bold, spinning light that can be seen across the city of Orlando.

Restaurants and other attractions at ICON Park have been open for a few weeks with new health and safety procedures in place.

The Wheel at Icon Park will be open daily from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

[READ MORE: Universal Orlando reopens to some guests; Wheel at ICON Park spins again]

While Orlando sees major attractions reopening, it also saw major shutdowns Tuesday evening as thousands of protesters took to the city’s streets to protest the death of George Floyd.

Around 2,000 peaceful demonstrators outside Orlando City Hall chanted “Black Lives Matter!" and “George Floyd" as rain cloud rolled in. The demonstrators then walked more than a mile to the Orlando Police Department headquarters.

[LIVE UPDATES: Protests over death of George Floyd continue across the US]

Nearly 50 minutes after the city’s 10 p.m. curfew went into effect, Orlando police said officers deployed tear gas and smoke after “a few remaining participants” started throwing rocks and bottles at them.

A man was also arrested during those protests after police said he tried to stab officers with an exposed syringe. Investigators said Ramsey Keith Moore, 29, was arrested on charges of attempted aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon.

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About the Author:

Erin began her career at News 6 as an assignment editor, then became a show producer. She is now a digital storyteller as part of the Click Orlando team.