MIAMI — Florida recorded its fourth highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began 16 months ago, reporting 17,589 new cases Wednesday to the federal government and deepening the state’s exposure to the virulent delta variant.
This is the eighth consecutive day Florida has reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 12,000 new daily COVID cases. On June 28 — one month ago — Florida reported only 1,312 new COVID cases, a 1,241% increase to the July 28 level of 17,589 cases, according to the CDC.
Florida, which represents about 6.5% of the U.S. population, is accounting for about 20.4% of the country’s new cases, based on the data the state is reporting to the CDC. The state also reported 56 new deaths.
The high caseloads — and the most severe cases — are primarily due to unvaccinated individuals contracting the virus, public health experts say, calling it a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
The state’s three highest days of new COVID cases, preceding Wednesday’s totals, all occurred during Florida’s peak in January: 19,816 cases on Jan. 7; 19,530 cases on Jan. 8; and 17,783 cases recorded on Jan. 6, according to state data.
January was the worst month of the Florida pandemic, with daily case counts routinely topping 10,000. That followed a surge last July, when daily case counts also topped 10,000.
The latter half of July 2021 has been Florida’s third COVID-19 surge.
Florida’s 7-day percent positivity rate climbed to 17.21% on Monday, up from 16.79% on Sunday, the state reported to the federal agency.
Cumulatively, Florida has recorded at least 2,551,923 confirmed COVID cases statewide and 38,896 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the CDC.
More than 12.2 million Floridians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, or about 57.2% of the state’s total population, according to the Florida’s weekly COVID reports. About 49% of Florida’s total population is fully vaccinated, in line with the U.S average.
After the CDC recommended all people, vaccinated or not, should be wearing masks indoors and in areas of high transmission, governments, schools and businesses have been reviving mask policies.
On Wednesday, Walt Disney World announced that starting Friday all guests — vaccinated or not — over the age of 2 will have to wear masks while indoors and on Disney transportation. Masks still won’t be required outdoors, it said.
This came after Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings had reinstated a state of emergency in the county due to high rates of COVID-19 transmission on the same day, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Also on Wednesday: The Broward School Board voted unanimously to institute a mask mandate for all students, teachers and staff when school begins on Aug. 18.
In Miami-Dade County, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava mandated masks at all county facilities on Wednesday, including libraries and recreational centers. She is also urged businesses to require facial coverings indoors.
Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach is also reversing policies starting Friday, saying it will not allow visitors at its medical center or physician locations, while having limited visitation at its emergency centers in Miami Beach, Aventura and Hialeah.
Jackson Health System suspended visitations to most of its inpatient units in early July with exceptions for rehabilitation, pediatrics, the neonatal intensive care unit, maternity ward and non-COVID end-of-life cases. Visitors are also not allowed in all adult emergency departments.
Miami-Dade County, Orange County and 64 other Florida counties are considered areas of high transmission by the CDC. The state has 67 counties.
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