GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida surged past 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Sunday, exactly one month after most of the state entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan.
It reached the milestone less than two weeks after hitting the 100,000-case mark on June 22 and only five days after reaching 150,000 cases Tuesday.
The state’s total case number since March now stands at 200,111, with 10,059 cases added in Sunday’s update from the state Department of Health.
Last week, Florida twice broke previous records for the number of new cases in a 24-hour period. Saturday’s 11,458 new cases remain the highest one-day count.
Some states with cases on the rise have countered with statewide mask mandates. Florida has not.
Leaders in several populous counties including Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Miami-Dade have taken it upon themselves to issue a mask mandate.
Visiting the beach, a favorite summer holiday activity for many Floridians, became more difficult over the Independence Day weekend as a number of popular South Florida destinations closed or restricted beach access to local residents.
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Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Tampa press conference Thursday that the 18- to 35-year-old age group accounts for the state’s greatest number of new cases. As of Sunday’s update, the median age for all cases since March was 39.
“Now those are folks that by and large are going to be less prone to significant consequences,” DeSantis said. “Nevertheless, with the increasing positivity rate, it’s clear that you’re seeing more and more community transmission really being driven by that age group.”
He advised vulnerable and older populations to remain vigilant.
The state announced 29 additional deaths from the coronavirus in Sunday’s report, in Broward, Dade, Indian River, Lee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco and Pinellas counties.
Late last week, an 11-year-old boy from Miami-Dade who had severe health issues became the youngest person in the state to die from the virus.
Total hospitalizations now stand at 15,895, or about 8% of all cases.
Data from the Agency for Health Care Administration shows that about 26% of state hospital beds were available Sunday.
DeSantis also said during Thursday’s press conference that the number of new cases has been on the rise in part due to an increase in overall testing.
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As of Sunday, more than 2.2 million Floridians have been tested for COVID-19, compared with about 1.1 million tests total tests that had been given as of June 5.
“Obviously, when you’re testing about 60,000 people a day, we’re getting results like that over the last week,” DeSantis said. “That’s going to generate a lot of additional cases.”
On June 5, many establishments that had been shuttered through May became eligible to reopen again, including gyms, retailers, museums and libraries.
Most gatherings were limited to 50 people, while restaurants and bars were allowed to operate at 50% indoor capacity.
Later in June, as virus numbers began to rise, the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation stepped up its enforcement of the gathering rule. On June 22, an Orange County bar near the University of Central Florida had its alcohol license temporarily revoked after 13 employees and 28 patrons tested positive for COVID-19.
Four days later, the state once again halted all on-premise alcohol consumption at bars.
DeSantis reiterated Thursday that residents need to avoid the three C’s: closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings.
“That’s going to go a long way,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t do anything socially, but how you do it really matters.”
Follow Emily Mavrakis on Twitter: @emmavrakis
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Florida passed 200,000 COVID-19 cases as July 4th holiday weekend ends