Florida reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to federal health data released Saturday. The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the US as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread, per the AP. The latest numbers were recorded on Friday and released on Saturday by the CDC. The figures show how quickly the number of cases is rising in the Sunshine State: only a day earlier, Florida reported 17,093 new daily cases. The previous peak in Florida had been 19,334 cases reported on Jan. 7, before the availability of vaccinations became widespread.
The state reported 409 deaths this week, bringing the total to more than 39,000 since its first in March 2020. The state’s peak happened in mid-August 2020, when 1,266 people died over a seven-day period. Deaths usually follow increases in hospitalizations by a few weeks. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who opposes mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, has blamed the surge on a seasonal increase—more Floridians are indoors because of the hot weather with air conditioning circulating the virus. About 60% of Floridians 12 and older are vaccinated, ranking it about midway among the states. Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld on Saturday became the latest theme park resorts in Florida to again ask visitors to wear masks indoors.
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