A steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Florida suggests the state could become the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, data shows.
The Florida Department of Health announced 3,207 new cases of COVID-19 in the state Thursday, beating the previous highest single-day increase of 2,783 set Tuesday, as infections continue to spike.
There are now 85,926 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Florida. The number of reported deaths increased to 3,061, an increase of 43 since Wednesday.
The state has "all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission," and risks being the "worst it has ever been," according to projections from a model by scientists at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, CNN reported.
"The potential for the virus to take off there is very, very nerve-racking and could have catastrophic consequences" because of the state's aging population and the prevalence of nursing homes and retirement communities, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told CNN.
More than three quarters of Florida's adult intensive care unit beds are occupied, according to data from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. General hospital beds were at nearly 75% capacity across the state.
"Certainly as we reopened, we did expect to see an increase but not like this," St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman told CNN. Kriseman is now requiring all workers at businesses who come face-to-face with customers to wear masks.
"There are all kinds of alarm bells that are going off for me," he told CNN. "I'm not comfortable with what I see happening in my community and that's really the reason I took the actions I took."
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