Florida reported 120 coronavirus-related deaths Thursday, a record daily high for the Sunshine State since the pandemic began.
Nearly 9,000 new cases were added to the state’s total of more than 232,718 confirmed infections, according to data released Thursday by the Florida Department of Health. Florida has recorded more than 4,000 confirmed virus-related deaths.
Florida also set a record high for daily infection rates on Saturday when 11,458 cases were reported, and more than 63,000 new cases have been confirmed during the past week, according to a local news outlet.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier this week that he believed the state has “stabilized” but that he would like to see the coronavirus figures get back to what they were in May and early June.
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“There’s no need to be fearful,” he added, despite the increasing number of positive tests.
Cases have surged in other states across the U.S., bring the country’s total to more than 3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 133,000 deaths.
DeSantis has repeatedly said he will not reinstate lockdown measures and does not believe that mask mandates will do anything to alleviate the spread of the virus.
The governor also said the rise in cases in Florida is because testing capabilities have gone up, echoing President Trump’s dismissal of the rise in COVID-19 across the U.S.
“There have been way more infections than documented cases,” DeSantis said Monday. “But it’s not really evidence that it’s more prevalent.”
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Health officials have said the virus is accelerating and that infection rates are not strictly increasing because of testing.
“In April and May, we were dealing with 100,000 cases a day,” World Health Organization (WHO) official Dr. Michael Ryan said during a Tuesday press briefing. “Today, we’re dealing with 200,000 a day.”
“This epidemic is accelerating,” Ryan added.
Ryan also said that the global community should not be surprised if death rates start to rapidly increase, noting the “lag time” it takes for the coronavirus to run its course after cases spiked in June and early July.
“We’ve only really experienced this rapid increase in cases over the last five to six weeks,” Ryan said. “So I don’t think it should be a surprise if the deaths start to rise again.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top health official on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, also warned this week that the U.S. has not passed its first phase of the coronavirus as cases continue to spread.
“We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this,” Fauci said during a livestream Monday on social media.
“Rather than looking at the public health effort versus economic opening as if they were opposing forces… we should use the public health effort as a vehicle and a pathway to get to safe reopening,” Fauci said.
President Trump took to Twitter Thursday to voice his frustration at the ever-increasing coronavirus numbers.
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“For the 1/100th time, the reason we show so many Cases, compared to other countries that haven’t done nearly as well as we have, is that our TESTING is much bigger and better,” Trump wrote. “We have tested 40,000,000 people. If we did 20,000,000 instead, Cases would be half, etc. NOT REPORTED!”
Like Trump, DeSantis is pushing to have schools reopen in the fall, citing concerns over an “education gap” that he believes online learning has caused.
“I want our kids to be able to minimize this education gap that I think has developed,” DeSantis said Thursday during a news conference in Jacksonville. “In spite of good efforts with the online, it’s just not the same. So I worry about that gap.”
DeSantis’ conference came one day after the Palm Beach County School Board agreed that classes, set to begin in August, will be held online for the 2020-2021 school year.
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The final vote on whether or not classes in Palm Beach will be held virtually or in person is slated to take place July 15, according to local news outlet WPTV.
DeSantis added that parents should be able to make the decision to have their children take online classes if they are uncomfortable with them attending in-person classes.
“If a parent wants to opt for virtual education, they should absolutely be able to do that,” DeSantis said. “We shouldn’t be forcing them to do any kind of decisions.”