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The steep rise in coronavirus cases in Florida has medical experts worried about the pandemic sending more people to an early grave.
Florida had 23,903 new COVID-19 cases and 93 more deaths on Friday based on an update Saturday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It was the third time in eight days that Florida broke its previous record for COVID cases reported in a single day, bringing back memories of last summer, when cases were on a steep rise.
Since the pandemic began, Florida has reported more than 2.7 million cases of coronavirus and 39,695 deaths.
Florida hit an alarming one-day high of 15,300 new coronavirus cases last year on July 12, shattering both the state and national record for new cases reported since the start of the pandemic. It was a record number at the time, eclipsing New York’s coronavirus peak of 12,274 cases on April 4, 2020.
The current surge has put medical staff on high alert.
As of Sunday, 13,793 beds were being used for patients battling the coronavirus in 251 hospitals throughout the state, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
In Florida, the test positivity rate for the previous week rose from 18.1% to 18.9%, according to a weekly report released Friday by the Florida Department of Health. Although not a significant increase, the numbers were heading in the wrong direction for a state facing the highest case totals in the country.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci offered hope that the Food and Drug Administration would give full approval to the coronavirus vaccine by the end of August, triggering a potential wave of vaccine mandates at schools, universities and privately owned businesses.
The FDA has given emergency-use approval of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Agency officials are expected to grant full approval to Pfizer soon.
“I hope it’s within the month of August,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The time has come. … We’ve got to go the extra step to get people vaccinated.”
In Broward County, hospital officials remain worried about a bed shortage.
At Broward Health, nearly all of their 300 COVID-19 patients have not been vaccinated, the hospital told WPLG-Ch. 10.
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“At this point, there’s still the people that are anti-vaccine,” Broward Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joshua Lenchus told Ch. 10. “Frankly, there’s nothing that we can do about those people. No science is going to convince them.”
Worldwide, more than 202 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 4.2 million people have died while battling the coronavirus.
The U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths than any other country in the world. As of Sunday, more than 35.7 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 616,729 people have died across the U.S., as reported by Johns Hopkins University.
India has reported the second most cases, with more than 31.9 million, followed by Brazil with 20 million. Brazil has reported more deaths, with a tally of 562,752 compared to 427,862 in India.
Susannah Bryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan