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Florida's Virus Woes: 'Like Swimming for Shore and Not Seeing Shore'

Grim news continues on COVID, with 12,444 new cases Friday, more than 400K infected in all
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2020 12:46 PM CDT

(Newser) – Florida has zipped past a grim benchmark amid the pandemic, per data from the state's Department of Health: With the addition of 12,444 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the statewide total has now surpassed 400,000, the Miami Herald reports. There were also 135 new resident deaths, bringing the total dead in the state to 5,653. The state also broke some records, including 740 deaths for the one-week period ending July 19; the previous week saw 511 fatalities. "Sadly, it will continue to go up at this rate for a while," an Orange County health officer tells the Orlando Sentinel, which adds that some researchers are projecting a doubling of Florida's death toll by Labor Day if people don't mask up (there's currently no statewide mask mandate) and adhere to social distancing.

At a Thursday press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis insisted the virus situation had "stabilized" and that businesses would remain open, per the Guardian. But that doesn't quite jibe with the data coming out of hospitals, which show several counties reporting no more ICU beds and exhausted staff. The state's COVID-19 dashboard showed on Friday that 581 more people were hospitalized over the last 24 hours—the largest single-day spike yet. "The last three weeks have been some of the busiest shifts in my entire life," Dr. Mark Supino, an ER doctor at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, tells the paper. "We've seen some of the sickest patients we've ever seen." He adds that every day at work feels like a "mass casualty" event. "It's not uncommon to have multiple ambulances coming back-to-back," he says. "It's like swimming for shore and not seeing shore." (Read more Florida stories.)

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