Healthcare workers wait for patients at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at the Duke Energy for the Arts Mahaffey Theater on July 8, 2020 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Florida reported 15,299 confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day on Sunday, the largest surge in infections since the start of the pandemic that brings the state’s total number of cases to 269,811.
The Florida Department of Health also reported that 45 more people died on Sunday from the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 4,346.
The state’s positivity rate of COVID-19 tests was 11.25% with a total of 142,981 people tested on Saturday. It’s Florida’s lowest positivity rate since the end of June as more people receive tests.
As the virus spreads, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended on-premise alcohol consumption at bars but has rejected calls to issue a statewide mask mandate.
The state is also set to host the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville next month and has required schools to reopen in August for at least five days a week.
Florida has become a major epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, as most infection surges are located in states in the South and West.
Florida, Arizona, California and Texas, all hotspots for the virus, have seen their average daily death tolls hit record highs in recent days, and health experts warn that deaths will continue to increase in the next several weeks.
In an interview with CBS on Sunday, Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb predicted that southern states will likely experience a peak in cases in the next two to three weeks, and warned of “extended plateau” after that.
At least 134,000 people in the U.S. have died since the outbreak began in March, and more than 3 million cases have been reported across the country, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.
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