July 8, 2020
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. DeSantis spoke about Florida's caseload of coronavirus topping 100,000. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Florida again reports over 5,000 new cases of coronavirus

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ORLANDO, FL (AP) – For the second day in a row, Florida reports more than 5,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.

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Thursday growth in reported cases was lower than Wednesday record, but this is only the second time that the state has crossed the mark of 5,000 cases per day. In total, the state reported more than 114,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 3,327 deaths from coronavirus.

“We are where we are,” Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference at Tampa High School. He added that many new cases are related to younger and healthier people. According to him, people can avoid the spread of the virus by putting on masks, as well as avoiding a large crowd of people and not being in close contact with many other people in the room.

“In terms of the virus, outdoor Florida is better than air conditioning,” he said.

The seven-day average positivity score for coronavirus tests in Florida reached 14.4% this week. For comparison: on June 1, it was 3.8%, and on May 25 – 2.3%.

The increase in the number of cases is worrisome, since theme parks in central Florida have either opened, or are a few days from the opening.

The day after Disney announced that it would postpone the opening of its California theme parks, a union representing actors at Walt Disney World in Orlando said Thursday that the company should also postpone hosting guests in its Florida parks, scheduled to open next a month after closing since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Actors Justice Association said it was unclear how Disney World could “responsibly” open up as coronavirus cases continue to grow in Sunshine.

It is planned that four Disney World theme parks will open on July 11. The theme parks resort has already opened several hotels and its own area with restaurants and shops. Other major resorts in the Orlando theme park – Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando – started to welcome visitors earlier this month

The actors’ union said it is concerned that there is no plan to conduct enough testing for park actors who cannot use masks when they are doing their job – performing – unlike other park workers. The union represents about 600 actors at Disney World out of a total of 77,000 employees at a theme park resort.

“For several weeks, we have made it clear to Disney that testing is a fundamental part of maintaining a safe and healthy environment for everyone, from guests to actors,” said Mary McCall, executive director of the Justice Actors Association. “It is deeply worrying that while coronavirus cases in Florida are increasing dramatically, Disney refuses to regularly test one of the few groups of workers in the park who, by the very nature of their work, cannot use personal protective equipment.”

Disney World representatives did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment.

In California, July 17, Disneyland hoped to open Disneyland and the California adventure in Anaheim after a four-month closure due to coronavirus. But the state indicated that it would not issue guidelines until July 4, with the result that the company is delaying the reopening of these parks.

So far, Florida has experienced a less severe outbreak of mortality than most other states, but in the past two weeks the number of new cases has been growing as high, making it the fifth largest per capita population. The sharp jump reflects both the increased availability of testing and the updated distribution of the community over the past month. Compliance with the guidelines on distance and hygiene is facilitated, especially when people are communicating as the state has entered a phased economic recovery, government and hospital officials said.

The number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 is also increasing across the state — albeit not as dramatically as in cases — reaching levels of new hospital admissions approaching levels in April and May. According to covidtracking.com, over the past week the number of new arrivals ranged from 150 to 170 per day.

However, there are fears that may change in the coming weeks, as older and more vulnerable populations become infected and suffer from more acute illnesses.

De Santis and hospital officials say recent cases are generally not as acute as during the peak periods of April. In addition, recent hospitalizations include people admitted for other reasons, but with a positive result in what is now the usual COVID-19 test. Officials attribute a lesser degree of severity to patients prone to distortion.

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AP authors Terry Spencer and Freuda Frisaro of Fort Lauderdale contributed to this talk.

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Follow the AP pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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