Florida breaks single-day death record for third consecutive day

Florida on Thursday reported 253 new COVID-19 related deaths. The deaths mark the third consecutive day that the Sunshine State has reported its highest number of deaths in a single day during the pandemic.

The Florida Department of Health reported 186 new deaths Tuesday from COVID-19. The following day, that number increased to 216. Both records were overshadowed Thursday when the state health department also confirmed 9,943 additional cases of COVID.

More than 6,300 people in Florida have died from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There are more than 460,000 cases across the state and more than 26,000 hospitalizations. This occurs as the United States is rapidly approaching 4.5 million total cases and at least 151,000 deaths since the pandemic began. More than 1,400 people died in the United States on Wednesday, that was one death per minute.

Despite the increase in deaths, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis presented an optimistic outlook for the state at a press conference on Tuesday. According to the governor, about 20% of all ICU beds are available statewide, and emergency departments across the state have seen a decrease in visits for COVID-like illnesses.

But Dr. David De La Zerda, director of the ICU at Jackson Memorial, one of the state’s largest hospitals, told CBS News last week that his department would soon be 100% full. According to De La Zerda, the hospital had to open a fifth intensive care unit to handle the influx of patients.

When asked Tuesday how his stability message matches the state’s record number of COVID-19 deaths, the governor said the increase was likely due to a delay.

“I think when you look at those reports, they probably reflect infections and hospitalizations that have occurred in the past, so it’s more of a lagging indicator,” DeSantis said. “While I think visits (to emergency departments), and some of the hospital censuses, is probably a primary indicator of where things are.”

“And so, given that you have fewer (emergency) visits, and you have fewer COVID-positive patients in the hospital, we believe … you will see mortality also decrease,” he added.

California, which leads Florida in total cases, also set a new record for single-day deaths on Wednesday with 197 new deaths, for a total of 8,715 lives lost to the virus. According to the California Department of Public Health, the state’s hospitalization and positivity rates are also on the rise on an average of 14 days.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said this week that the disease is disproportionately affecting the state’s Latino population in the Central Valley. Positivity rates range from about 10% to 17% in the region, compared to the state’s overall average of 7.5%, according to the governor.

Newsom, who has pleaded with residents to wear masks in public, this week proposed allocating $ 52 million to local health departments in eight Central Valley counties. The money, which comes from a $ 499 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would provide support staff for health workers and improve tracking, quarantine and testing protocols, CBS Sacramento reported.

“Not enough attention has been paid, honestly, to essential workers in this state,” Newsom said during a press conference on Monday.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, the virus is hitting the region hard and leading the country in per capita cases.

“People don’t listen to scientists, they listen to public health experts, and they don’t wear masks,” former Louisiana chief of health Dr. Rebekah Gee told CBS News.

According to the study by the American Medical Association, the news that infected children can carry the virus 100 times was added to the debate on the reopening of schools on Thursday, but it is still unclear how much virus they have and how infectious they are.

“We don’t have good options to reopen schools, certainly the level of transmission in the community is the most important factor,” Gee explained.

There is some promising news about the race for a vaccine: Johnson & Johnson revealed Thursday that a clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine showed it prevented monkeys from contracting the virus after exposure. And new research from the Mayo Clinic suggests that vaccines for other diseases may reduce the risk of COVID-19.

David Begnaud contributed to this report.