Florida health officials report fewer than 7,000 new COVID-19 cases

There have been over 5 million cases in the U.S.

Texas attorney general says local officials lack authority to keep schools closed

ORLANDO, Fla. – As teachers and students gear up to return to the classroom amid a global pandemic, deaths and positive cases continue to rise in Florida.

Public health leaders said an additional 77 people have recently died from the virus. Their deaths raise the overall count to 8,315 that number includes 129 non-residents who died in Florida.

The Florida Department of Health on Sunday reported 6,229 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in Florida to 532,806.

The number is a running total since the virus was first detected in Florida in March.

[MORE: More than 19,000 Floridians projected to die from COVID-19 by December, experts say]

On Sunday, the positivity rate for the number of people who tested positive for the first time, compared to the overall tests, fell to 8.46%. Health officials agree the rate should be below 10% to show infections are decreasing.

Across the state, 6,872 people are currently hospitalized with severe cases of the virus, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration’s report.

The FDOH’s coronavirus dashboard reveals 30,505 people have been hospitalized due to complications with COVID-19 since March, an increase of 254 patients since the last time the state released the total 24 hours ago.

There were over 2,000 fewer cases on Sunday compared to Saturday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wants the numbers to continue to improve so tourism can resume and workers in the hospitality and the service industry can return to work.

“I think people have done a good job, and that’s the way these things go,” DeSantis said.

The governor pointed out that Orlando, home to several theme parks, had done a good job of mitigating the spread, but it was “not where they need to be.” He said worst-hit South Florida was still behind.

“I want all these people back to work,” he said. “As we continue to see positive trends, we will have an opportunity to see some improvements.”

Some students will begin to hit the books Monday as virtual learning classes begin ahead of face-to-face sessions.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran told school districts last month they must reopen schools for in-person instruction or face a cut in funding. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis later said there would be flexibility to allow districts to delay openings.

[BACK TO SCHOOL: 4 things Orange County Public Schools wants parents to know before Monday]

The Florida Education Association is suing the state in effort to postpone school openings, saying there haven't been enough precautions put in place to make sure students and teachers are safe.

“We know that kids get COVID, we know they spread COVID, we just don’t know to what extent and how severe that might be,” said Andrew Spar, vice president of the teachers union. “What we don’t know is when we open schools and create these super-spreader situations in a climate in which we have uncontrolled community spread, what is that going to do?”

He said teachers want to be in the classroom, but there isn’t a good plan to ensure that it’s done safely.

Parents of Central Florida students can find everything they need to know about their district’s back-to-school plan at ClickOrlando.com/backtoschool.

Here’s a breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Central Florida:

CountyCasesNew casesHospitalizationsNew HospitalizationsDeaths

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter and go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.

About the Author: