Health and Science

'We need to close down' — Florida reports more than 10,000 new virus cases for fifth day

Key Points
  • Florida reported 12,523 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, marking the fifth consecutive day the hot-spot state reported more than 10,000 cases, according to the state's health department. 
  • The state has reported more than 11,865 new infections on average over the past seven days, up 29% from a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • "The residents here are terrified and I'm terrified, for the first time in my career because there's a lack of leadership," said Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla.
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Florida surpasses 10,000 Covid-19 cases for fifth consecutive day

Florida reported 12,523 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, marking the fifth consecutive day the hot-spot state reported more than new 10,000 infections, according to the state's health department. 

The state has reported more than 11,865 new cases of Covid-19 on average over the past seven days, up 29% from a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The Florida Department of Health says the virus has infected more than 350,047 people in the state and killed at least 4,982 people. 

The state has reported more than 10,000 new cases per day since Tuesday. Of the past 10 days, Florida has reported more than 10,000 new cases on nine of those days, according to the state health department. It reported a record spike of 15,244 new cases on July 11.

Hospitalizations have risen in recent weeks as well. As of Sunday, 49 hospitals had no more available adult intensive care units, according to Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration.

"The residents here are terrified and I'm terrified, for the first time in my career because there's a lack of leadership," Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala, whose district is in  Miami-Dade County, said on ABC's "This Week." "It's terrible. We have community spread, which means the virus is out of control."

The lack of both federal and state leadership from Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has hampered local officials' ability to bring the virus under control, said Shalala, who was secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton. She added that the state did not shut down for long enough to "starve the virus" and that the governor has declined to issue a statewide mask order.

DeSantis' office did not immediately return CNBC's request for comment. 

"In my district, it's low-income minorities: Hispanics and African Americans," she said, "who are forced to go back to work for economic reasons and because their employers demanded they go back to work."

She added that the people in her district live in multigenerational households, so those who become infected often pass it on to their older family members.

Over the past seven days, the median age of newly infected people in Florida was above 40, according to the state's health department. That marks a steady rise since mid-June, when DeSantis noted that the median age of those testing positive had fallen from 65.5 years old in March to 37 in June, hitting a low of 33 on June 24.

Carmen Garcia prepares to have her nose swabbed by a nurse through a glass pane in the Aardvark Mobile Health’s Mobile Covid-19 Testing Truck on July 17, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

DeSantis has pointed to the lower age of patients as evidence that the state is effectively protecting its most vulnerable residents. Younger people are less likely to become severely sick and die from Covid-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But as more and more young people have contracted the virus, they appear to have passed it on to older, more vulnerable population.

"There is more testing now than there was then so that may account for some of this but I think we're seeing a true increase in cases in older adults, which makes sense given the overall large increase in cases," Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida, told CNBC last week. 

Shalala added that Covid-19 hospitalizations have been steadily rising, especially in her South Florida district. She said some hospitals are overwhelmed and patients should be concerned about receiving quality care in the current environment if they become sick and need to be hospitalized. 

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said last week that shortages of remdesivir, the only drug currently authorized in the U.S. to treat Covid-19, being reported in Florida's hospitals are due to a "bad disconnect" with the Trump administration about his state's needs. The Department of Health and Human Services signed a deal with drugmaker Gilead to secure the available supply of the drug, but amid the recent surge, hospitals have been struggling to meet demand. 

"We need to close down in Florida," Shalala said. "Our economy will not come back until we meet this virus at its head and bring it down."

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