Florida reports more than 15,000 new cases, breaking record

Healthcare workers wait for patients at the COVID-19 test drive site at the Duke Energy for the Arts Mahaffey Theater on July 8, 2020 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Octavio Jones

Florida reported 15,299 confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day on Sunday, the largest increase in infections since the start of the pandemic, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 269,811.

The Florida Department of Health also reported that 45 more people died Sunday from the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 4,346.

The state positivity rate of the COVID-19 tests was 11.25% with a total of 142,981 people tested on Saturday. It is the lowest positivity rate since the end of June as more people receive tests.

As the virus spreads, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended local alcohol consumption in bars, but rejected calls to issue a mask mandate across the state.

And despite COVID-19’s skyrocketing cases, Disney began a gradual reopening of its Florida theme parks, with leadership bragging about new security measures and altered operations.

Florida has become a major epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, as most of the increases in infection are in southern and western states. Florida, Arizona, California and Texas, all critical points for the virus, have seen their daily average of deaths hit record levels in recent days, and health experts warn that deaths will continue to rise in the coming weeks.

In an interview with CBS on Sunday, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb predicted that southern states will likely experience a spike in cases in the next two to three weeks, and warned of an “extended plateau” after that.

This is breaking news. Please check for updates.