Florida Reports Record Number of COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Since Pandemic Began

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El Paso Covid
El Paso Covid

PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Testing for COVID-19

New data reveals that Florida is experiencing its highest surge of coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state recorded 21,683 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, its highest one-day total since the pandemic began.

On Sunday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reported that 10,207 people in Florida were hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19, the Associated Press reported. The figure breaks the previous Sunshine State record of 10,170 hospitalizations, recorded July 23, 2020, according to the Florida Hospital Association. They report more than 95% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are not fully vaccinated.

The news follows "crisis mode" concerns from officials in Orange County — home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando — as the area has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

"The virus has a new target: the unvaccinated and younger people," Mary C. Mayhew, Florida Hospital Association President and CEO, said in a statement. "Previously healthy people from their teens to their 40s are now finding themselves in the hospital and on a ventilator. Regardless of your age, get vaccinated, if eligible! What you heard last year and last spring about this virus mostly targeting seniors and those with pre-existing conditions is not true today."

RELATED: Central Florida Theme Park Area in COVID 'Crisis,' According to Orange County Executive

Meanwhile, on Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order prohibiting school districts from implementing a mask mandate when the new academic year begins this fall. DeSantis said in a statement, "masking children can negatively impact their learning, speech, emotional and social development, and physical health," without citing any evidence.

The order will allow parents to decide whether or not to have their children wear masks inside the classroom, despite CDC recommendations urging so.

"I signed an executive order directing @HealthyFla to enter rulemaking in collaboration with @EducationFL to protect parents' freedom to choose whether their children wear masks in schools," the governor tweeted.

Meanwhile, the state's Democratic agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried — who is planning on running against DeSantis — has strongly encouraged vaccination and safety precautions suggested by the CDC.

"We are already behind the curve and in a worse spot every time the numbers come out," Fried said during a Tallahassee press conference, the Associated Press reported. "This surge is and will impact every single one of us."

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