Monday was another record-setting day for Florida’s COVID-19 pandemic

New color-enhanced image of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (in blue), which causes the dangerous respiratory disease COVID-19. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-Rocky Mountain Lab

Florida has reported another record day for new COVID-19 infections, with the Department of Health declaring Tuesday that its overnight tally revealed 2,783 new cases and 55 deaths.

Some 7.4 percent of the 39,000 tests conducted produced positive results for the new coronavirus, the state said.

That topped the previous record 2,581 cases detected on Sunday.

Nikki Fried, Florida’s Democratic commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, issued a written statement denouncing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ management of the state’s response.

“Today’s record-high new cases makes it clear: Gov. DeSantis has lost control of Florida’s COVID-19 response,” Fried said.

“His policies are simply not working, and he’s recklessly reopening Florida despite the data screaming for caution. Refusing to acknowledge the alarming patterns in cases, hospitalizations, and positivity is not only arrogant, but will cost lives, public health, and our economy.”

Fried urged Floridians to protect themselves by wearing masks and continuing social distancing, and local governments to encourage residents to stay home.

“If the governor is unwilling to make the right decisions, then they must be made in our cities, our states, and our homes. We are in this together, and I will continue fighting on behalf of all Floridians,” Fried said.

DeSantis began easing stay-home restrictions intended to protect Floridians against coronavirus transmission in early May. He has argued that the subsequent increase in positive test results is the natural outcome of increased testing. He also has argued that the virus is most dangerous to older people and those with underlying health problems.

And he stressed last week: “This is an illness that is subclinical for the vast, vast majority of people who acquire it.”

The governor’s approach drew support from Fred Piccolo, spokesman for Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva. Piccolo had this to say on his Twitter feed:

“New tests per day rising dramatically. At the same growth rate of new cases, growth rate of total cases, and new deaths per day all trending downward by wide margins. So raw # will rise for a bit but it is a measurement that either misses context or deliberate misinformation.”

Helen Aguirre Ferré, DeSantis communications chief, backed up Piccolo in her own tweet.

“You are 100# correct; these numbers can not be viewed in a vacuum. ICU beds, ventilator use and number of deceased are critical indicators of COVID’s worst impact,” she wrote.

Michael Moline
Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.