Florida Daily Coronavirus Deaths Rise Above 200 for First Time as New Infections Continue to Surge

Florida's daily death toll from the coronavirus pandemic rose above 200 for the first time on Wednesday, setting a new record as infections continue to surge in the state and across the country.

The Florida Department of Health announced that 216 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel virus, have been confirmed in the past 24 hours. Additionally, the state saw 9,446 new infections, 9,384 of which were Florida residents (62 were nonresidents). The test positivity rate stood at 12.26 percent.

Previously, the state's highest number of daily deaths was recorded on Tuesday, when the state reported 186 new fatalities. The number of new infections rose on Wednesday as well, up from 9,230 on Tuesday. According to a New York Times tracker, Florida's seven-day average of new daily infections stood at 10,306 as of Tuesday.

Florida testing truck
A man walks past a coronavirus testing truck in Miami Beach on July 24. On Wednesday, Florida reported 216 deaths due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, a new record. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty

Florida, the nation's third most populous state, has the second highest number of confirmed infections of any state after California. In total, Florida has reported 451,423 virus cases and 6,333 deaths due to COVID-19. But New York still holds the record for the highest number of deaths of any state, having confirmed more than 32,000 since the start of the pandemic.

Newsweek reached out to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

DeSantis, a Republican, said on Tuesday during a visit to an Orlando hospital that the situation in his state was improving despite the significant increase in deaths and new infections.

"We have seen throughout the state of Florida a decline in visits for COVID-like illness to emergency departments," the governor said. "We [have] seen a stabilization or decline in the COVID hospital census at hospitals throughout the state."

Meanwhile, on Wednesday California also reported its highest daily death toll since the outset of the pandemic, with 196 confirmed deaths and 8,755 new infections in the past 24 hours. The previous daily record was set on Tuesday, when the state reported 172 fatalities.

Across the country, 21 states have been identified as "red zones" for the virus, meaning they've had an average of at least 100 new daily cases per 100,000 residents over the past week. California, Florida and Texas, the nation's three most populous states, were all identified as red zones, as new cases and deaths surge nationwide.

The U.S. continues to be the country with the highest number of infections and deaths. As of Tuesday, the country had confirmed a total of more than 4.3 million cases and over 150,000 deaths. The seven-day average of new infections remained above 65,000, while the seven-day average of deaths nationwide rose to 1,106.

Public health experts have warned that the outbreak's spread has reached a point where it can no longer be addressed by wide-scale testing and contact tracing. Many have urged the nation to lock down again to curb further spread of the virus and save lives.