ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP/WJW) — The Fourth of July holiday weekend began Saturday with some sobering numbers in the Sunshine State: Florida logged a record number of people testing positive for the coronavirus.
State health officials reported 11,445 new cases, a single-day record since the pandemic began earlier this year. The latest count brings the total number of cases in the state to more than 190,000. A website maintained by the Department of Health shows an additional 245 hospitalizations from the outbreak.
According to our sister station WFLA, the state has tested more than 2 million people and reported 1,956,445 tests came back negative.
Local officials and health experts are worried that people will gather over the holiday weekend and spread the virus through close contact. They’ve tried to mitigate spread by shutting bars statewide.
Some state lawmakers are urging Governor Ron DeSantis to issue a statewide mask mandate.
Rep. Anna Eskamani is among ten lawmakers who signed a letter to the governor asking for the mandate. She alleges that DeSantis reopened the state too early and citizens are not following CDC guidelines.
“Governor Ron DeSantis opened up the state too early. And, as a result, many people are suffering,” she told WESH. “There are folks still not taking this seriously. And, sometimes, it takes a mandate for folks to actually take it seriously — to practice CDC guidelines on COVID-19.”
Some regional attractions, such as Zoo Miami and Jungle Island, have closed. Universal Studios in Orlando is open.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez closed Miami-Dade County beaches through the weekend. Municipalities elsewhere in South Florida, from Vero Beach to Broward County, did the same. Beaches in the Florida Keys are also closed. Public beaches along Pinellas County’s 35 miles of sand are open.