FLORIDA — As revelers in Florida get ready to ring in the new year Friday, COVID-19 continues to surge in the Sunshine State, which on Wednesday broke its record once again for cases reported in a single day.
Just shy of 47,000 new cases were reported Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This number smashed Florida’s previous single-day record for new coronavirus cases, which was set not once but twice over the holiday weekend.
On Christmas Day, 32,850 new COVID-19 cases from Dec. 24 were reported in Florida, according to the CDC. That number broke the state’s previous record — set just the day before on Christmas Eve, when 31,758 new cases were reported from Dec. 23.
About 39,000 new coronavirus cases were reported over the weekend, according to CDC data. For Christmas Day, the state saw 21,040 new cases added, while another 17,955 cases were reported for Sunday.
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Florida had a new case positivity rate of 13.8 percent from Dec. 17-23, according to the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report. During that period, 125,201 new coronavirus cases and 28 deaths were reported.
That’s a significant jump from the previous week, Dec. 10-16, when Florida saw a positivity rate of just 5.4 percent with 29,568 new cases and 39 deaths, according to state data. From Dec. 3-9, only 13,530 cases, a 2.6 percent positivity rate and 36 deaths were reported.
Florida is also among the top states where COVID-19 is spreading the fastest, ranking ninth in the U.S., according to a USA Today Network analysis of John Hopkins University data.
The state also accounted for about 9 percent of coronavirus cases in the U.S. last week, reports said.
The Florida Hospital Association has also reported an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. On Tuesday, there were 2,754 confirmed hospitalizations related to the virus, the agency tweeted.
That is a jump of nearly 700 cases from the day before, when FHA reported 2,075 COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the state. It’s also an 83.4 percent increase compared to Florida’s coronavirus hospitalizations one week earlier.
— Florida Hospital Association (@FLHospitalAssn) December 28, 2021
The rise in coronavirus cases comes as testing was disrupted because of the Christmas holiday and residents in many parts of the state struggle to access tests.
In Central Florida, some waited for as long as three hours at an Orange County soccer complex to get tested, WESH reported.
Demand for testing is high in South Florida as well, where many also waited in line for hours at testing sites. Miami-Dade County also distributed about 152,000 at-home rapid test kits through its library system over the holiday weekend, WSVN reported.
Many pharmacies also ran out of at-home tests ahead of Christmas.
“We had people buying four, five, six at a time,” Parker Baro, a pharmacy technician at Orlando Pharmacy, told News 13 before the holiday. “And it really was that fast. Yesterday we had a whole bunch of them, and today (Tuesday), we’re absolutely out. These last couple of days have just been crazy, the amount of inquiries we’re getting, the tests that we’re doing. It’s picked up almost overnight it seems.”
The use of at-home tests means that the number of new COVID-19 cases in Florida is likely much higher than reported, some doctors say.
“The numbers are likely to be quite a bit higher because there are so many people doing at-home tests now,” Dr. Todd Husty, medical director for the Oviedo Fire Department, told News 6 in Orlando.
If people don’t report the results of their at-home tests, those numbers don’t get included in daily reports, he added.
To stay safe this holiday season, including New Year’s Eve, the CDC recommends that those who are eligible get vaccinated against coronavirus.
Those who aren’t vaccinated should wear well-fitting masks that cover your nose and mouth when indoors. And for people in a community with a high transmission rate, the agency recommends those who are vaccinated wear a mask indoors, as well.
Additionally, New Year’s Eve revelers should opt for outdoor gatherings, if possible, and avoid crowded and poorly ventilated spaces.
The CDC also suggests that those who are sick should stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that people across the country should avoid large New Year’s Eve parties and opt instead for smaller gatherings with family and close friends.
“When you are talking about a New Year’s Eve party, where you have 30, 40, 50 people celebrating, you do not know the status of the vaccination — I would recommend strongly, stay away from that this year,” Fauci said. “There will be other years to do that, but not this year.”