A couple sit on the intracoastal waterway as sun-seekers return to the beach during a phased reopening from measures taken to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in St. Pete Beach, Florida, U.S. May 4, 2020.
Steve Nesius | REUTERS
The Florida Department of Health reported 8,942 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, shattering the record single-day spike of 5,508 reported on Wednesday.
The coronavirus has now infected 122,960 people in Florida and killed at least 3,327 people, according to the state’s health department.
The latest spike comes amid a surge in many states, mostly across the South and West, that has prompted some officials to delay and even roll back reopening efforts. Cases have been rising by the thousands in Florida in recent days.
When asked on Thursday about Florida’s reopening, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state doesn’t have plans for continuing its step-by-step reopening. He added that the state “never anticipated” to continue moving forward at this point.
“We are where we are. I didn’t say we were going to go on to the next phase,” the Republican governor said.
His comments come shortly after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would pause reopening plans for his state as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to climb. On Friday, Abbott rolled back some of the state’s reopening plans.
Florida was averaging 4,013 daily new cases as of Thursday, which is about a 67% increase compared with the seven-day average one week ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. DeSantis has allowed retailers, restaurants, gyms and personal care services to reopen at reduced capacity.
Florida was among the first states to reopen, with DeSantis allowing most restaurants and stores to open with limited capacity on May 4. Heavily populated Miami-Dade and Broward counties did not reopen until May 18. On June 5, most of the state moved deeper into reopening, allowing more stores to resume operations as well as for gyms and some stores to operate at full capacity.
Last week, DeSantis said the state would not reimplement more restrictions.
“We’re not shutting down. We’re going to go forward,” the governor said. “You have to have society function.”
The latest spike also drove up the state’s test-positivity rate, or the percent of all tests that came back positive. The Florida Department of Health reported Friday that 13.05% of all tests came back positive, up from 8.92% reported on Thursday.
While Florida does not report statewide hospitalization data, some parts of the state have seen hospitalizations rise.
“All options have to be on the table. When we see our hospitalizations go up, our ICU beds go up, our ventilators are going up. Still with sufficient capacity, but going up. It’s worrisome,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told CNN on Friday when asked whether he would consider instituting another stay-at-home order. He said that there are some hospitals in Miami-Dade County that are nearing capacity.
On Thursday, the city of Miami issued a mandate requiring facial coverings be worn in public at all times until further notice. Those who defy the order could be fined $50 and face court appearances for repeated offenses.