TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida broke its record for the highest single-day number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, tallying 19,816 new cases on Thursday, while the state’s death toll reached 22,400.
Statistics from the Florida Department of Health on Thursday showed the totals surpassed the previous single-day record, which was 17,783 cases on Wednesday. Since the pandemic started in March, about 1.4 million people in Florida have contracted COVID. As of 3 p.m. Thursday, 7,331 people in the state were hospitalized with the virus.
People are eager for vaccines, and have swamped online registration sites in some counties. Florida followed federal recommendations in starting vaccinations first for front-line medical workers plus residents and staff of nursing homes in mid-December. But instead of putting essential workers and people over 75 next in line, as federal recommendations suggested, or fully completing the first group of recipients, Gov. Ron DeSantis moved in late December to open up vaccinations more broadly for people 65 and over.
So far, more than 329,000 people, or about 1.5 percent of the state's population, have received a Covid vaccine in Florida.
"As hospitals have gotten through their workers, what you’re now seeing is hospitals being more aggressive to our senior citizens. That’s our top priority at this point,” DeSantis said.
The University of South Florida announced Thursday it will start administering coronavirus vaccines to eligible faculty and staff through a partnership with the Hillsborough County Department of Health.
And starting next week in Orlando, AdventHealth Central Florida will begin vaccinating community health-care providers and two groups of 65 and older adults in the community: employees’ families and the patients of AdventHealth Medical Group.