Friday marked exactly one week since most of the state entered Gov. Ron DeSantis’ phase 2 of reopening and an all-time high for the most reported COVID-19 cases in a single day.
The week was filled with businesses welcoming back guests for the first time in months and plans to reinvigorate Florida’s educational system.
The Florida Department of Health on Friday reported 1,902 news cases of COVID-19 since about the same time the previous day, as well as 29 new deaths.
Thursday saw the second-largest single-day increase in reported coronavirus cases on record in Florida, with 1,698 new cases and 47 newly reported deaths.
These new statistics bring the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Florida since it was first detected in the state on March 1 to 70,971, as well as a total of 2,877 deaths.
The FDOH does not provide information on the number of people who have recovered from the disease.
Since the beginning of March, 11,706 Floridians have required hospitalization due to severe cases of the respiratory illness.
During a news conference Thursday, Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris said the county has seen a pronounced uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Harris said it was important to note that the increase in cases was not due to increased testing. In fact, testing numbers have dropped because the demand has also dropped.
Seminole County Medical Director Dr. Todd Husty also spoke during the news conference and implored residents to be respectful and smart by continuing to wear face masks, saying that the COVID-19 virus is an opportunistic predator.
“This is a big deal. And it’s getting worse. We were so close to zero. Close. And then we started opening up, which we should,” Husty said.
Husty said he thinks people can have semi-normal lives but should not ignore the risk of COVID-19.
“We can’t ignore that this is a big deal. This virus doesn’t know about rules. It knows about getting from one person to another, it knows about how to replicate itself. It knows that it’s going to take the opportunity,” he said. "How does this thing spread? Respiratory droplets, a little bit on surfaces. It spreads because we let it, because we give it the opportunity.”
Orange County leaders met Thursday evening to discuss a similar uptick in COVID-19 cases.
As of Thursday, Orange County has had 2,678 cases since the virus was first detected in the state in March, according to the FDOH.
“We are on our way up, there is no other way to describe it,” said Dr. Raul Pino, director of the Department of Health in Orange County.
Pino noted that 21% of people diagnosed lately have been asymptomatic, which is about double what it once was, half of the new cases are people between 20 and 40 years old and the median patient age in Orange County is 32.5, which is lower than the statewide average of 41.
That may explain why hospitalizations have not seen a significant increase despite the uptick in cases, according to Pino.
Here’s how coronavirus cases break down by Central Florida county:
The governor announced Thursday that he would like to see schools across Florida reopen from summer and fall semesters for in-person instruction.
“We want schools fully open in the fall because there is no better way to educate our kids than have that great teacher in front of that child,” Corcoran said. “We also know that they are not at a low risk, they are at an extremely low risk, not only of contracting (COVID-19), but even spreading it. And so we’re saying, ‘Open up the schools. Let’s get the best educational environment. Let’s keep everybody safe in our educational community and now attack like no other state has before the achievement gap.'”
DeSantis said millions upon millions of dollars from federal funding under the CARES Act would be used to fund schools and help close learning gaps that often disproportionately affect students who live in rural or underserved communities.
Under his plan to reopen schools, DeSantis outlined phases in which he would do so, much like his phased plan to reopen the state as a whole:
- Step 1 – June – open up campuses for youth activities and summer camps
- Step 2 – July – expand campus capacities further for summer recovery instruction
- Step 3 – August – open up campuses at full capacity for traditional start of the academic year
[SEE FULL PLAN: Reopening Florida’s Schools and the CARES Act]
The state’s first full week under the governor’s phase two of reopening saw a rebound in many businesses, especially those in the tourism industry.
The Daytona Lagoon waterpark reopened Friday, welcoming guests to cool off as the nearly-summer weather continued to heat up.
Park employees will be checking the temperatures of all guests who enter and will be implementing extra cleaning procedures.
Daytona Lagoon is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Daytona Lagoon Water Park opens today from 11am - 6pm! We're ready for good, clean, family fun when you are! While our team works hard to keep the park safe, we encourage everyone to read our updated health and safety protocols here: https://t.co/QxtK3VsvRp pic.twitter.com/DLOwApCKlA— Daytona Lagoon (@daytonalagoon) June 12, 2020
SeaWorld reopened to guests Thursday with enhanced health and safety measures.
The company shut down its parks in mid-March due to the dangers of COVID-19 and furloughed hundreds of employees.
Just like other Central Florida attractions, there are social distancing markings on the ground and hand sanitizer stations throughout the park for guests.
As for the rides, employees said riders will sit in every other row and workers will be constantly wiping down the seats.