Cases of the coronavirus continue to rise in Florida as the state’s businesses and attractions gradually reopen, with more than 2,000 new diagnoses reported Sunday by state health officials.
The numbers reported by the state Department of Health mark the 11th out of 12 straight days in which new cases have topped 1,000. Gov. Ron DeSantis and local officials began relaxing rules on businesses, beaches, theme parks and gatherings in May.
For the first time on Saturday, the Florida Department of Health announced over 2,500 new positive coronavirus cases across the state.
On Sunday, the FDOH reported 2,016 new people have tested positive for the respiratory illness.
This brings the state’s total of all confirmed coronavirus cases since the disease was first detected in the state on March 1 to 75,568, as well as a total of 2,931 deaths.
Since March, 11,942 people with severe cases of the virus have required hospitalization. The state does not report the number of current patients in hospitals with the coronavirus or the number of individuals who have recovered from the disease after being diagnosed.
The newly reported cases also depend on the number of tests administered per day but the state doesn’t release private lab testing in its overall total so that percentage is difficult to determine.
Here’s a breakdown of coronavirus numbers by county in the Central Florida region:
|County||Total cases||Total deaths||Total hospitalizations|
The surge in positive coronavirus cases comes as Florida is set to become a hub for major sports leagues. The NBA, Major League Soccer, the Amateur Athletics Union Junior Olympics and others plan to hold games and events in Florida, potentially drawing thousands of people to the state from around the world.
DeSantis, a Republican and close ally of President Donald Trump, has said he does not think the reopening of the state is connected to the increase in coronavirus cases. On Friday, DeSantis said at a news conference that much of the surge can be attributed to increased testing for the virus — especially in younger people.
“What we’re seeing is of the people that are testing positive way more are in the (age) 25 to 45 than was happening two months ago,” DeSantis said. “The clinical consequences of them testing positive is usually very, very modest because they are not in the high-risk groups.”
Overall, as of Saturday, Florida has tested about 1.4 million people for the coronavirus, with about 5.4% testing positive, according to the Department of Health.
The vast majority of people who test positive for the coronavirus recover and many never experience any symptoms. The disease is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people who have pre-existing health problems.
Some restaurants are shutting their doors for the second time during the pandemic weeks after reopening.
Kiwi’s Pub & Grill in Altamonte Springs posted a message on Facebook Friday night notifying the community of the closure.
“It saddens me to say that Kiwi’s will be closing temporarily effective immediately. We have been informed by 6 different people today that they have been infected with the Coronavirus and they have been inside Kiwis’s within the last week. This may seem like an extravagant step, however we are taking no chances with the health of our staff and our customers,” the post read.
Details were not provided on whether those six people were patrons, employees or other vendors. The message also didn’t indicate when the establishment will reopen.
CONTINUE READING: Kiwi’s Pub in Altamonte Springs closes after COVID-19 cases
During a news conference, 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.”
Amusement parks of all sizes are adjusting everything from selling tickets to serving meals while trying to reassure the public and government leaders that they’re safe to visit amid the coronavirus crisis.
Disneyland in California said this past week it will welcome back visitors on July 17 if it gets government approval. Theme parks in many states have been among the last businesses allowed to reopen because of worries over crowds.
Inside the gates, some parks will use “virtual queueing" through apps to cut down on long lines. Employees will assign seats on rides, leaving some spots open and making sure you only sit with your group. On many roller coasters, only every other row will be filled.
SeaWorld welcomed guests inside its park Thursday for the first time since its doors were shut in March.
SeaWorld is the second Central Florida theme park to open its gates after gaining a seal of approval from Gov. Ron DeSantis and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
“We’ve taken a lot of steps here to make sure that our animals, our staff and our guests are all safe,” said Jon Peterson, of SeaWorld Orlando.
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.
“We really want to make sure they are having a good experience here when they visit all of our three parks in Orlando,” said Kyle Miller, SeaWorld Orlando park president.
The company said guests over 2 years of age are required to wear a face-covering or mask and will undergo temperature checks before entering the parks.
The Associated Press contributed to this story