ORLANDO, Florida – Florida has reported 21,683 new cases of Covid-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to federal health data released on Saturday.
The state has become the new national epicenter of the virus, accounting for about a fifth of all new cases in the United States
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and with the state legislature, limited the ability of local officials to impose restrictions intended to stop the spread of Covid. DeSantis on Friday banned school districts from forcing students to wear masks when school resumes next month.
The latest figures were recorded on Friday and posted on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on Saturday. The numbers show how quickly the number of cases is increasing in the Sunshine State: Just a day earlier, Florida reported 17,093 new cases daily. The previous peak in Florida was 19,334 reported cases on Jan. 7, before vaccine availability became widespread.
The Florida Hospital Association said on Friday that statewide Covid hospitalizations were nearing last year’s peak, and one of the state’s largest healthcare systems, AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division , announced this week that it will no longer perform elective surgeries to free up resources for COVID -19 patients.
Health officials announced Friday that coronavirus cases in Florida had jumped 50% over the past week, with COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the state approaching their peak last year.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 615,000 Americans, according to a continuous tally from NBC News. At least 38,000 of those deaths have occurred in Florida, in a per capita rate that puts the state squarely in the middle of the pack.
About 48.7% of the population of Florida has been fully vaccinated, according to the NBC vaccination tracker. This places Florida slightly behind other major states like California (52.6), New York (56.9) and Pennsylvania (52.2) but ahead of Illinois (48.3) and Texas (43 , 7).