On Tuesday, the state of Florida reported 132 deaths and 9,194 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The former was a record for the Sunshine State, which marks an alarming new development in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Lilian Abbo, an infectious disease expert at the University of Miami, spoke at a news conference about the dire situation in Florida.
"Miami is now the epicenter of the pandemic," she said, via NPR. "What we were seeing in Wuhan five months ago, now we are there. We really need your help." Abbo was joined by a number of colleagues, where they asked the public to socially distance, wear face coverings and follow local rules aimed at stopping the spread of the virus. In response to the surge, Miami-Dade County did recently impose a curfew and ordered all restaurants closed for indoor dining.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has said that he wants to wait and see if the current requirements were effective before considering more, including another a countywide stay-at-home order. "We close down five or six businesses on a daily basis," Gimenez said, referring to his stepping up of enforcement on establishments ignoring certain safety protocols.
The current surge in cases started in Florida back in mid-June, which was noted by an uptick of cases in young people. However, doctors have been reporting that the median age of patients testing positive for COVID-19 has been rising, which health officials are blaming on younger people contracting the virus, then passing it along to older friends or family members.
However, one factor worth considering regarding those rising numbers is the state has rapidly increased its testing capacity. On Sunday, when Florida set a record with 15,300 cases in a single day, the state recorded nearly 143,000 tests, roughly three times the number they'd conducted a week prior. On Tuesday, when the state set a record for deaths, it had conducted 67,160 tests that had an 18 percent positivity rate.
As cases continue to rise across the U.S., with only a handful of states seeing the numbers come down to manageable levels, Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Home Depot, Lowe's and Meijer have all started requiring face masks from customers. "As the number of confirmed cases has spiked in communities across the country recently, so too have the number and types of face-covering mandates being implemented," Walmart said in a statement.