ORLANDO, Fla. – A few days into new face mask requirements issued by local leaders in Florida to prevent the spread of COVID-19, businesses are learning to enforce the policy to customers, while others have been forced to close again due to new cases.
As of Tuesday, the state Department of Health reported 3,286 new cases of COVID-19, bringing Florida’s total to 103,503 since the pandemic began. Since March, 3,238 people have died from complications from the respiratory illness. Florida reported 65 additional deaths on Tuesday.
The state’s positivity rate -- the rate of new cases compared to the number of tests given per day-- jumped above 10% Monday, a significant increase compared to the beginning of the month when it was as low as 4%, according to the DOH report.
While Florida hospital executives say they have plenty of hospital and ICU bed capacity to support the growing number of infections, hospitals in Central Florida have reported more hospitalizations in recent weeks.
Florida reported an additional 196 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals around the state Tuesday, bringing the number of people hospitalized in Florida because of the virus since March to 13,316.
According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, 25% of all Florida hospital beds are vacant.
With the increase in new cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the DOH would be doing more outreach with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to prevent the virus from spreading. On Monday, State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees recommended: “all individuals in FL should wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible.”
Bars and restaurants have closed around Central Florida this week after multiple cases were tied to employees or guests.
The alcohol license has been suspended at a University of Central Florida-area bar after 13 employees of the bar tested positive for COVID-19 and 28 patrons of the bar tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting the bar.
The Florida Department of Businesses and Professional Regulation issued the emergency suspension of an alcoholic beverage vendor license to The Knights Pub.
Meanwhile, Orlando is preparing to host major sporting events in July.
The Orlando Pride have withdrawn from the upcoming National Women’s Soccer League tournament after six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The league says another round of testing will take place to confirm the results.
Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is set to play host to both the NBA and MLS next month. Disney World began reopening some of its resorts Monday but the parks won’t begin welcoming guests until next month.
New deaths were reported in the Central Florida region including in Brevard and Orange counties. Orange County reported 375 new cases on Tuesday.
Here’s a breakdown of coronavirus cases in the Central Florida region by county:
|County||Total cases||New cases today||Deaths||Total hospitalizations||New hospitalizations|
More than 2.3 million Americans have been sickened during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more than 120,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
There is still no vaccine for COVID-19, and there are no treatments specifically developed for the disease, although the antiviral drug remdesivir has been shown to help some patients, as well as a steroid called dexamethasone, and plasma from patients who have recovered.
The nation’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci returns to Capitol Hill on Tuesday at a fraught moment in the nation’s pandemic response.
The government’s top infectious disease expert will testify before a House committee, along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Fauci remains optimistic that a vaccine will be found, noting that patients develop antibodies to the virus — a sign that the human immune system is able to battle back against the disease. However, Fauci shied away from promising results by the end of the year, as Trump has done.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.