ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s largest university is punishing a sorority and fraternities for hosting events that led to new COVID-19 cases; meanwhile U.S. drug manufacturers are working to reassure the public they won’t release a coronavirus vaccine until it is safe and ready, meaning the “new normal” amid the pandemic may be here to stay until early next year.
The Florida Department of Health reported 2,583 new cases Thursday, bringing the state total to 654,731 positive COVID-19 test in six months. The state also reported an additional 213 recent deaths from the virus. Florida’s death toll now stands at 12,482, including 156 non-residents who died here.
While most people who contract the virus make a full recovery, those who become seriously ill may require hospitalization. Currently in Florida, there are 2,920 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. That number was above near 6,000 about a month ago. The DOH reported 290 new patients who are in hospital across the state Thursday. Since March, 40,807 people in Florida have received hospital care due to COVID-19.
The positivity rate, which remains well below the medically advised 10%, is 5.97% on Thursday. Florida’s rate of infection has been below 10% since Aug. 12.
Here are three things to know about the pandemic for Sept. 10:
- N95 mask shortfalls: White House officials say U.S. hospitals have all the medical supplies needed to battle the deadly virus, but frontline health care workers, hospital officials and even the Food and Drug Administration say shortages persist. Critical shortfalls of medical N95 respirators — commonly referred to as N95 masks — and other protective gear started in March, when the pandemic hit New York. Pressure on the medical supply chain continues today, and in “many ways things have only gotten worse,” the American Medical Association’s president, Dr. Susan Bailey, said in a recent statement.
- UCF trying to slow the spread: The University of Central Florida suspended a sorority and a fraternity for violating the school’s COVID-19 policies. The sorority had a large social gathering on campus, officials said. Earlier this week, UCF announced more positive cases of coronavirus inside its student organizations on campus, including Zeta Tau Alpha, Kappa Alpha Theta and Alpha Epsilon Phi. A total of 79 women live the three sorority houses, and 16 have tested positive, officials said.
- Drugmakers pledge vaccine safety: The top executives of nine drugmakers likely to produce the first vaccines against the new coronavirus signed an unprecedented pledge meant to boost public confidence in any approved vaccines. Earlier this week, the companies said that they will stick to the highest ethical and scientific standards in testing and manufacturing and will make the well-being of those getting vaccinated their top priority. The announcement comes amid worries that President Donald Trump will pressure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine before it’s proven to be safe and effective. The pledge was signed by the chief executive officers of American drugmakers Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer, and European companies AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi.
[CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE: Does my employer have to say if a coworker has the virus? | Interactive map shows Florida coronavirus cases]
In Orange County, the death toll surpassed 400 on Thursday. Recent deaths from COVID-19 across Central Florida made up 40 out of the 213 new fatalities reported across the state.
Below is the breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Central Florida:
|County||Cases||New cases||Hospitalizations||New hospitalizations||Deaths||New deaths|