Florida has recorded its highest daily total of new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, as infections across the United States soared past 100,000.
Florida reported a record 22,783 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, 1,100 more than Florida’s previous single-day case count record last Saturday, according to figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The state’s rolling seven-day average of new cases has now reached 18,933, a 664 per cent increase on the seven-day average of 2,478 on 5 July.
Florida has been the state hardest hit by the latest wave of Covid-19 cases surging on the hyper-infectious Delta variant, and the state now accounts for more than 20 per cent of new cases in the US despite having only 6.5 per cent of the population.
The state has 12,864 people hospitalised with the virus, and reported 199 deaths on Thursday.
Governor Ron DeSantis has refused to impose any restrictions on residents, and blamed the state’s soaring infection rates on media hysteria and President Joe Biden.
Mr DeSantis has taken the CDC to court to prevent the cruise industry from requiring passengers to provide proof of vaccination.
“We can either have a free society, or we can have a biomedical security state,” Mr DeSantis said earlier this week.
“And I can tell you: Florida, we’re a free state. People are going to be free to choose to make their own decisions.”
The virus is spreading quickly through unvaccinated populations, especially in the Deep South.
Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi have had hospitals overrun with patients.
The US first crossed the 100,000 daily cases average number in November and peaked at about 250,000 in early January before bottoming out in late June, the Associated Press reported.
Houston-area officials say the latest wave of Covid-19 cases is pushing the local health care system to nearly “a breaking point,” resulting in some patients having to be transferred out of the city to get medical care, including one who had to be taken to North Dakota.
Dr David Persse, who is health authority for the Houston Health Department and EMS medical director, said some ambulances were waiting hours to offload patients at Houston area hospitals because no beds were available.
Dr Persse said he feared this would lead to prolonged respond times to 911 medical calls.
“The health care system right now is nearly at a breaking point. For the next three weeks or so, I see no relief on what´s happening in emergency departments,” he said on Thursday.
Last weekend, a patient in Houston had to be transferred to North Dakota to get medical care.
An 11-month-old girl with Covid-19 and who was having seizures had to be transported from Houston to a hospital 170 miles away in Temple.
Even people who have recovered from Covid-19 are urged to get vaccinated, and a new study shows survivors who ignored that advice had twice the risk of getting reinfected.
The report from the CDC came as scientists urge people to get vaccinated because of the highly contagious Delta variant. That includes people who had a prior infection.
The report out of Kentucky adds to growing laboratory evidence that vaccines offer an important boost to natural immunity, including broader protection against new variants.
“If you have had Covid-19 before, please still get vaccinated,” said CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky.
“Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious Delta variant spreads around the country.”
The Associated Press contributed to reporting on this story