ORLANDO, Fla. – For more than a week, the Florida Department of Health has reported at least 1,000 new cases of the coronavirus a day, those new positive test results reflecting people who were tested up to several weeks ago.
On Wednesday, Florida’s numbers reflected that upward trend in infections. The state reported 1,371 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, including 36 deaths attributed to the virus. The new numbers bring the state’s total to 67,371 since the pandemic first hit Florida in March, and brings the new death toll to 2,801.
U.S. health officials are urging people to wear masks in public when social distancing is not possible to prevent spreading the virus. Washing your hands and social distancing is still the best way to avoid infection, health officials say.
Since March, 11,345 people in Florida have required hospitalization due to the coronavirus. Florida reported 160 new hospitalizations Wednesday. The state doesn’t report current hospitalizations, only the overall total since the virus first arrived in the Sunshine State.
After causing an uproar from the medical community, a top World Health Organization expert has tried to clear up “misunderstandings” about comments she made that were widely understood to suggest that people without COVID-19 symptoms rarely transmit the coronavirus.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the U.N. health agency’s technical lead on the virus pandemic, insisted Tuesday that she was referring only to a few studies, not a complete picture, in the comments she made Monday.
The “clarification” she provided during a WHO social-media chat showed many questions remain about whether infected people who don’t show symptoms of illness such as fever, dry cough or difficulty breathing can transmit the virus to others.
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“That’s a very small subset of studies,” she said. “I used the phrase `very rare,' and I think that that’s (a) misunderstanding to state that asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare. What I was referring to was a subset of studies.”
The U.S. leading expert in infectious disease Dr. Anthony Fauci was among the medical experts who sought to clarify the remarks about asymptomatic transmission of the virus.
Weighing in Wednesday on “Good Morning America,” Fauci said that the virus causes a wide range of symptoms but “there’s no evidence” that people who have it without signs of illness don’t infect others.
The economic fallout from coronavirus closures continues to come into focus more than two months after Florida first began its stay-at-home order.
Volusia and Orange counties have both reported significant drops in tourism development tax dollars from hotel stays. This week, Volusia reported a nearly 80% dip in April, when the stay-at-home order first began.
This weekend, NASCAR will become the largest sport to allow fans to return since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S.
NASCAR decided a limited number of fans can attend races this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR says all fans will be screened before entering, required to wear face coverings, mandated to socially distance at six feet, and will not have access to the infield, among other revised operational protocols.
NASCAR will allow up to 1,000 Florida service members, representing the Homestead Air Reserve Base and U.S. Southern Command in Doral, to attend the Cup Series race Sunday as honorary guests and view the race from the grandstands.
Here’s a breakdown of cases in Central Florida by county:
Meanwhile, thousands of Floridians are still reporting issues receiving unemployment benefit payments from the state Department of Economic Opportunity.
Orlando Rep. Anna Eskamani, like many state representatives, has been helping her constituents file for benefits and answer questions about the frustrating process. On Tuesday, Eskamani said some people had not been receiving $600 federal pandemic unemployment benefits due to a technical issue in the state system.
Many have reported to News 6 they stopped receiving federal benefits at least two weeks ago.
Since March, nearly 2.2 million people have filed for unemployment in Florida. According to the DEO, more than 1.2 million people have received at least one payment totaling more than $4.7 billion in state and federal funds.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.