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COVID-19 Morning Update

Florida Department of Health

The 10,059 new cases of COVID-19 reported by state health officials, Sunday, brings Florida's total caseload over the 200,000-case threshold for a total of 200,111 confirmed cases. July 4 marked a new one-day record of 11,445 cases of the virus.

Sunday marked the 12th consecutive day the Florida Department of Health reported more than 5,000 cases in a single day.

State health officials also reported 29 new deaths, July 5, increasing Florida’s coronavirus-related death toll to 3,731 fatalities. Despite the decision to re-close bars June 26, the number of new cases of the coronavirus in Florida has more than tripled since phase two of Governor Ron DeSantis' reopening plan went into effect June 5.

Of the 2,202,095 tests that have been performed in the state so far, 9.1 percent have been positive for the virus.

The total number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Florida since the pandemic began now stands at 15,895 patients.

Here in the Southwest Florida region including Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, state health officials now report a total of 20,579 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and 583 deaths.

As Florida and other states face a surge in coronavirus cases the challenge for health departments is how to keep cases to a manageable level.

Senior Scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Dr. Amesh Adalja said hospitals and health departments have to figure out this new normal.

“This is something now that has established itself in the human population. It is not going to go anywhere until we have a vaccine,” said Dr. Adalja.

“And the question becomes, ‘How do we keep the cases to a pace that’s manageable by health department contact tracing teams as well as by hospitals?’”

Dr. Adalja said he thinks Floridians should expect case numbers to get worse before they get better because of the lag in processing test results.

Two of Miami’s political leaders, and rivals, speculated about what caused the latest spike in coronavirus cases on national television Sunday.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez blamed the increase on residents’ complacency about the virus.

But Gimenez also claimed, without evidence, that the virus was spread by demonstrators who’ve taken to the streets over the last month to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

“We had thousands of young people together, outside, a lot of them not wearing masks, and we know that when you do that, and you are talking and you are chanting, et cetera, that really spreads the virus,” said Gimenez.

“So absolutely, the protests had something to do with it.”

Gimenez was speaking on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds no increase tied to protests around the country.

On “This Week,” from ABC News, Suarez argued the culprit was Miami residents’ behavior since businesses including restaurants started reopening.

“The city of Miami was the last city in the entire state of Florida to open. I was criticized for waiting so long, but there’s no doubt that when we reopened, people started socializing as if the virus didn’t exist. It’s extremely worrisome.”

In mid-June Suarez himself was photographed without a mask at a Miami restaurant where patrons had flouted social distancing rules meant to slow the spread of the virus. Suarez tested positive for COVID-19 in March and has since recovered.

Vice President Mike Pence was in Tampa, July 2, to meet with Florida's governor and discuss the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two spoke with reporters afterwards, with Pence acknowledging the state's recent large increase in positive cases.

“"We really are here to assure the people of Florida, as we see the rising number of cases, not only in this state but across the sunbelt, that we are going to do whatever it takes to make sure that our extraordinary healthcare workers have the resources and support and supplies."

Pence and Gov. Ron DeSantis both wore masks during the briefing and urged residents to practice social distancing. Pence complimented the state's response to fighting the pandemic, specifically at long-term care facilities, even as more than 1,900 residents and staff have died.

The vice president's visit to Florida originally had been planned as a campaign event for President Donald Trump, but shifted the focus when coronavirus cases spiked.

Matthew Peddie
Alysia Cruz is the WUSF Stephen Noble news intern for the fall 2019 semester. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida in Communication and is now enrolled at USF St. Petersburg, pursuing her Master’s in Digital Journalism & Design concentrating on food writing.
Jessica Bakeman reports on K-12 and higher education for WLRN, south Florida's NPR affiliate. While new to Miami and public radio, Jessica is a seasoned journalist who has covered education policymaking and politics in three state capitals: Jackson, Miss.; Albany, N.Y.; and, most recently, Tallahassee.
In a journalism career covering news from high global finance to neighborhood infrastructure, Tom Hudson is the Vice President of News and Special Correspondent for WLRN. He hosts and produces the Sunshine Economy and anchors the Florida Roundup in addition to leading the organization's news engagement strategy.
Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.