On Sunday, Florida added more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number of daily cases reported since July. The 10,105 new cases brought the state’s total that much closer to the 900,000 case mark.
The increase was fueled by an unprecedented number of test results — more than 146,000 in one day. Several testing sites, particularity in South Florida, had been closed last week due to Tropical Storm Eta which flooded the state.
But hospitalizations in South Florida have also risen exponentially. According to Sun-Sentinel, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties saw a 44% increase in COVID-19 patients over the last two weeks.
Statewide figures as of Monday show 3,243 people are hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s a 31% increase from just two weeks ago, and up about 58% from last month.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has projected that more than 23,000 Floridians will die from the virus by March 1 given that a new wave of the virus is expected this winter. Florida’s current COVID-19 death toll is at 17,000.
Despite the increase in cases and grim predictions of a new wave, county and state leaders have not yet shown any intentions of implementing any new COVID-19 restrictions.
Broward County Mayor Dale Holness told CNW Network that while cases are rising, the state officials are now better equipped to deal with an increase in cases.
“We’ve seen an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in Broward County and across Florida and the United States. Superintendent [of Broward County Public Schools], Robert Runcie has said there isn’t a great deal of spread within the schools, but the spread is still occurring. The hospitals have also said that cases are rising but they are now better equipped to deal with an uptick.”
He urged residents to continue to follow the CDC rules of wearing a mask and social distancing, while the county makes preparations for a vaccine.
“Even though there’s a vaccine coming, we still have do wear a mask, social distance and do all the things we did that got us to this point,” Holness said. “In my conversation with Dr. Paula Thaqi, the Director of Broward County’s Health Department, we’re making good progress and getting the necessary equipment ready to dispense this vaccine that is forthcoming.”
Although Mayor Holness has implied that the county and entire state is now managing the new wave of virus better without any new restrictions being imposed, in other states like New Mexico, New York and Washington and cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago, leaders have been ordering residents to stay home and issuing new limitations on the opening hours of some establishments to help stem a rising tide of infections.
The new restrictions in those states came as American biotechnology company, Moderna Inc. announced that its experimental coronavirus vaccine appears to be over 94% effective, based on early results. A week ago, another company, Pfizer disclosed similar findings with its own formula.
The news raised hopes that at least two vaccines could win emergency authorization and become available in the U.S. before the end of 2020.