ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Cases of the coronavirus continue to rise in Florida as the state’s businesses and attractions gradually reopen, with more than 2,500 new diagnoses reported Saturday by state health officials.
The numbers reported by the state Department of Health mark the 10th out of 11 straight days in which new cases have topped 1,000. Gov. Ron DeSantis and local officials began relaxing rules on businesses, beaches, theme parks and gatherings in May.
There were 2,581 new coronavirus cases reported Saturday, the third day a new record was set. Deaths from the virus in Florida now stand at more than 3,000 with a total of 73,552 positive cases since the outbreak started.
The surge in positive coronavirus cases comes as Florida is set to become a hub for major sports leagues. The NBA, Major League Soccer, the Amateur Athletics Union Junior Olympics and others plan to hold games and events in Florida, potentially drawing thousands of people to the state from around the world.
DeSantis, a Republican and close ally of President Donald Trump, has said he does not think the reopening of the state is connected to the increase in coronavirus cases. On Friday, DeSantis said at a news conference that much of the surge can be attributed to increased testing for the virus — especially in younger people.
“What we’re seeing is of the people that are testing positive way more are in the (age) 25 to 45 than was happening two months ago,” DeSantis said. “The clinical consequences of them testing positive is usually very, very modest because they are not in the high-risk groups.”
Overall, as of Saturday, Florida has tested about 1.4 million people for the coronavirus, with about 5.4% testing positive, according to the Department of Health.
The vast majority of people who test positive for the coronavirus recover and many never experience any symptoms. The disease is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people who have pre-existing health problems.