A Month After Reopening, Florida Records Over 1,000 New Coronavirus Cases For Sixth Time In 7 Days

Florida has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases during the last week, just a month after the state officially began reopening.

On Tuesday, the state reported 1,096 new confirmed cases of coronavirus. With the exception of 966 new cases on Monday, Florida has seen new daily cases surpass 1,000 cases six times in the past seven days. The state saw a one-day high last Thursday of 1,419 new daily cases.

Over the course of the pandemic, Florida has recorded 66,000 total COVID-19 cases and 2,765 coronavirus related deaths.

Newsweek reached out to Florida's Department of Health's Division of Disease Control and Health Protection for comment but did not hear back before publication.

Florida began reopening businesses last month after the statewide stay-at-home order expired on May 4.

Miami-Dade, the area hit hardest by coronavirus in the state, and Broward counties were the last regions to join Phase One of Florida's reopening plan on May 18. Restaurant and bars, retail, gyms, personal care, houses of worship, entertainment venues and beaches have all resumed operations.

Florida Beach
People visit Clearwater Beach on May 20, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. Beaches reopened as part of Phase One of Governor Ron DeSantis' Reopening Plan. Mike Ehrmann/Getty

"Don't mistake identifying more cases for thinking there are more cases one day compared to two months ago," Governor Ron DeSantis said at a Tuesday conference. "If you're testing three times as much and you have a disease with a lot of asymptomatic [cases]. Remember at the end of March, you couldn't get a test if you were asymptomatic. It was only for people that were showing symptoms as per the CDC guidelines. We've really expanded that."

DeSantis also noted that the agriculture communities and prisons in Florida have been at higher risk of outbreaks.

On Monday, DeSantis said the willingness of residents to wear masks is a key factor in seeing a decline in cases.

"I think Miami does more masking and Broward does more masking. I don't think they do it as much in Palm Beach," DeSantis said at a news conference.

With 224 new cases on Tuesday, Miami-Dade county's confirmed COVID-19 cases now stands at 19,980.

Protests over George Floyd's death have also raised concerns whether demonstrations will increase the spread of coronavirus.

There have been a series of protests in Florida, including large gatherings in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which drew hundreds of protestors. In response to the unrest, Broward County was placed under curfew for a week and the National Guard was activated on May 31.

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist at FIU, told Newsweek the mass protests will result in a spike in cases due to a multitude of reasons.

Marty said many protestors were not social distancing or wearing proper face coverings that would help prevent spread of the virus. She also noted that the use of tear gas and other chemicals from law enforcement cause damage to people's airways that can last weeks, which would make them more susceptible to the virus, and lead to coughing which further propels the virus.

Marty said while reopening is inevitable, it is about how it is executed.

"A significant percent of the population is not adhering to the guidelines of how to interact safely. This includes employers, employees and patrons," she said.

Marty also mentioned that people with a false sense of security about the virus' risks can reflect a spike in cases.