COVID-19 deaths surge in Florida
Florida surpassed its previous one-day record for coronavirus deaths Tuesday and Britain and France announced they will require people to wear masks in public indoor spaces, amid rising global worries about a resurgence of the pandemic.
Florida reported 132 additional deaths, topping the previous record for the state set just last week. The figure likely includes deaths from the past weekend that had not been previously reported.
Even so, the new deaths raised Florida’s seven-day average to 81 per day, more than double the figure of two weeks ago and now the second-highest in the United States behind Texas. Doctors have predicted a surge in deaths as Florida’s daily reported cases have gone from about 2,000 a day a month ago to over 12,000.
Marlyn Hoilette, a nurse who spent four months working in the COVID-19 unit of her Florida hospital until testing positive recently, said she worries about returning given the pressure to handle the surge in cases.
“Nurses are getting sick, nursing assistants are getting sick and my biggest fear is that it seems we want to return folks to work even without a negative test,” said Hoilette, who works at Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee. Florida. “It’s just a matter of time before you wipe the other staff out if you’re contagious, so that is a big problem.”
Word of the rising toll in Florida came as Arizona officials tallied 4,273 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The state, which became a virus hot spot after Gov. Doug Ducey relaxed stay-at-home orders and other restrictions in May, reported 3,517 patients hospitalized because of the disease, a record high. Arizona’s death toll from COVID-19 rose to 2,337, with 92 additional deaths reported Tuesday.
The New York Times on Tuesday reported that the Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, beginning Wednesday, send all coronavirus patient information to a central database in Washington – a move that has alarmed public health experts who fear the data will be distorted for political gain.
The new instructions are contained in a littlenoticed document posted this week on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website. From now on, HHS, and not the CDC, will collect daily reports about the patients that each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic.
In Britain, officials announced they will require people to wear face masks starting July 24, after weeks of dismissing their value.
“We are not out of the woods yet, so let us all do our utmost to keep this virus cornered and enjoy summer safely,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers in the House of Commons.
French President Emmanuel Macron said masks will be required by Aug. 1, after recent rave parties and widespread backsliding on social distancing raised concerns the virus may be starting to rebound.
Even Melania Trump, whose husband President Donald Trump resisted wearing a mask or urging anyone else to do so, called on people to step up precautions.
Story Collins, 9, and her mother, Heather Correia, show their support for teachers Tuesday at the Duval County School Board building in Jacksonville, Fla., where people were protesting plans to reopen schools in a city where COVID-19 infections have hit record rates.