COVID-19 deaths surge in Florida

Merced Sun-Star - - News - BY TERRY SPENCER AND ADAM GELLER

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.

BOB SELF AP

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.

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