Florida infections rise by more than 10,000 for second time since Thursday

People wearing protective face masks walk past a closed entrance to Miami Beach on Friday. (AP pic)

FLORIDA: Florida’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose by a record 11,458 on Saturday, the state’s health department said, the second time in three days that its caseload increased by more than 10,000.

The new record came a day after seven other states also reported record rises in cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that has killed nearly 130,000 Americans.

The recent surge, most pronounced in southern and western states, has alarmed public health officials, who urged caution ahead of a July 4th holiday weekend to celebrate the Declaration of Independence of the US in 1776.

Florida’s record rise in cases was more than any European country’s daily peak at the height of the outbreak there.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alaska, Missouri, Idaho and Alabama all registered new daily highs on Friday, while Texas hit a new peak for hospitalisations.

The daily US tally of cases stood at 53,483 late on Friday, below the previous day’s record 55,405.

Despite the jump in infections, the average daily death toll in the US has gradually declined in recent weeks, a reflection of the growing proportion of positive tests among younger, healthier people who are less prone to severe outcomes.

Evidence the surge is not simply due to expanded testing, the percentage of tests coming back positive in Florida rose to 14.8% in the past two weeks compared to 8.3% the two weeks prior, according to a Reuters analysis.

The World Health Organization says a rate over 5% is concerning.

Against that backdrop, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez imposed an indefinite nightly curfew starting Friday and halted the reopenings of entertainment venues such as casinos and strip clubs.

Earlier this week, Miami-Dade and neighbouring Broward County, the state’s two most populous counties, required residents to wear face coverings in public.

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