WASHINGTON: The US state of Florida reported 15,299 new coronavirus cases Sunday, shattering not only its own previous single-day records, but also those of any other state as the pandemic continued to rage in the country.
The mind-boggling number brought the total infections to 269,811 in the Sunshine State, with the death toll reaching 4,346, according to the Florida Department of Health.
The recent surge was the result of increased testing and widespread transmission as the state prematurely loosened lockdown measures, as a result of which people were seen gathering in crowds, no longer heeding anti-virus guidelines such as maintaining social distance or wearing face coverings.
Out of the 2,574,007 tests conducted as of Sunday, 269,811 returned positive. Meanwhile, the number of hospitalizations is also rising at an eye-popping rate, registering 18,271 in total on Sunday.
As for the positivity rate, another key parameter, the number ranged from 12.24 percent to 18.36 percent during the past two weeks, indicating that the virus is far from being brought under control.
Commenting on the positivity rate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said during a Saturday press briefing that it is "something we're looking at very seriously," adding that if the rate "gets into the single digits, that's something that's a lot more manageable."
In the meantime, however, the governor doubled down on his call for reopening schools, echoing a similar demand from President Donald Trump.
"People say, 'kids may be the vectors then, in the community' ... but it's been found over and over again, as people have looked at this and studied this, particularly in Europe, that the school children aren't vectors for this, for whatever reason," DeSantis said. "They usually get infected by the parents. They're usually not infecting
Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a Democrat, told CNN in an interview Saturday that schools should give parents the option of continuing online education for their kids "if they so desire," and that when to reopen schools should primarily be the parents' decision.
Despite the surge, the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando opened its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom sites Saturday, asking visitors to wear masks and adhere to other safety measures. Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, also part of the amusement park complex, will reopen on July 15.