Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Florida coronavirus cases increased 50% this week, the state Health Department reported Friday, continuing a six-week outbreak that accounts for 1 in 5 new infections in the United States.
More than 110,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported statewide this past week, an increase from 73,000 last week and 11 times the 10,000 reported in the week of June 11, six weeks ago. The case numbers are once again where they were in January, before vaccines were generally available.
Shortly before the announcement, Gov. Ron DeSantis barred school districts from requiring students to wear masks when classes resume next month, alleging there is no evidence that they prevent outbreaks among students or staff.
The Florida Hospital Association also said Friday that COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state are approaching the highest level on record last year. More than 9,300 patients are hospitalized, compared with 1,845 a month ago and close to the record of 10,179 set on July 23, 2020. Per capita, Florida now has more people hospitalized for coronavirus than any other entity in the country.
The state reported 409 deaths this week, bringing the total to more than 39,000 since the first in March 2020. The highest level recorded in the state occurred in mid-August last year, when 1,266 people died in a period of seven days. Increases in hospitalizations are often followed by deaths a few weeks later.
DeSantis has said the outbreak is due to a seasonal increase: More Floridians are indoors due to the hot weather, and air conditioning keeps the virus circulating. About 60% of the state’s 12-year-olds and older are vaccinated.