(Reuters) – New COVID-19 cases jumped by more than 69,000 in the United States on Friday, according to a Reuters count, setting a record for the third consecutive day when Walt Disney Co stuck to its plans to reopen its theme park. Florida insignia hit hard.
A total of nine states in the US, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Ohio, Utah, and Wisconsin, also achieved single-day infection records.
In another hot zone in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott warned Friday that he may have to impose drastic new measures if the state cannot stop its cases and hospitalizations through masks and social distancing.
“If we don’t adopt this best practice, it could lead to business closings,” the Republican governor told local KLBK-TV in Lubbock, adding that it was the last thing he wanted.
California announced Friday that the state will release up to 8,000 inmates early from jails to curb the spread of COVID-19 within the facility. At San Quentin State Prison outside San Francisco, half of the facility’s approximately 3,300 prisoners have tested positive for the virus.
The Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) said that the theme parks in Orlando would open on Saturday to a limited number of guests who, along with employees, should wear masks and undergo temperature controls. The park also canceled parades, fireworks displays, and events that generally draw crowds.
The Disney medical director said earlier this week that he believed the rules would allow guests to visit the park safely.
Approximately 19,000 people, including some theme park workers, have signed a petition asking Disney to delay the reopening. The union representing 750 Walt Disney World artists has filed a complaint against the company, alleging retaliation against the members for a union demand that they be tested for COVID-19.
Other theme parks opened in Orlando in June, including those at Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (SEAS.N) Sea World.
Florida remains one of the nation’s worst virus hotspots and is among a handful of states where deaths have increased, according to a Reuters analysis of deaths in the past two weeks, compared to the previous two weeks.
On Thursday, the state reported a record 120 deaths and added another 92 on Friday. On Friday there were 11,433 new cases of coronavirus, just below the state record, and almost 7,000 hospitalizations.
ANTIVIRAL DRUG TO FLORIDA
More than four dozen hospitals in Florida reported that their intensive care units were full.
This month, Florida has repeatedly reported newer daily cases of coronavirus than any European country had at the height of its outbreaks. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, angered some residents and medical experts by calling the spike a “failure.”
On Friday, DeSantis said the state would receive more than 17,000 vials of the antiviral drug remdesivir from the US government, adding: “That will be something that hopefully will help improve patient outcomes.”
Scott Burkee, a 43-year-old former Disney employee from Davenport, Florida, said DeSantis “has shown no effort to control the spread, only concerned when Trump does.” The virus is clearly out of control. ”
Trump, a Republican, traveled to Florida on Friday for an event at the U.S. Army’s Southern Command and to raise funds for the campaign.
The president confronted state and local officials and teacher unions about the reopening of schools, and said Friday that the Treasury Department would re-examine the tax-exempt status and funding of those who remain closed.
Trump previously promised to cut federal funding for schools and expel foreign students attending universities in the United States unless his schools offer in-person classes. Most education funds come from state and local coffers.
The number of confirmed infections in the US exceeds 3 million, according to a Reuters count, fueling fears that hospitals will be overwhelmed.
About 134,000 Americans have died, a number that experts warn is likely to increase along with the increase in cases.
Overall, coronavirus cases are on the rise in 44 US states, according to a Reuters analysis of cases in the past two weeks compared to the previous two weeks.
Additional reports by Susan Heavey, Maria Caspani, Gabriella Borter and Lisa Richwine; Written by Alistair Bell and Dan Whitcomb; Bill Tarrant and Daniel Wallis edition