Florida sees record 156 COVID-19 deaths; 66K new U.S. cases

A member of the National Guard speaks with a resident waiting to be tested at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Fla., on Monday. Health officials in Florida said 156 COVID-19 patients died on Wednesday, a record. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI

July 16 (UPI) — A number of states are ramping up efforts to control COVID-19 as the United States reported another 66,000 cases on Thursday.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University said in an update Thursday about 66,300 new cases were recorded nationally on Wednesday. To date, there have been 3.499 million cases and 137,400 deaths in the United States, according to the researchers.

Florida, the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak, said Thursday it set a new record for COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, with 156 — topping the previous mark by 24 deaths. Officials also reported 14,000 new cases statewide.

More than 315,000 people in Florida have now been diagnosed with COVID-19.

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp has rescinded face covering mandates statewide, rejecting rules in major cities like Atlanta, Savannah and Augusta.

Wednesday night, Kemp signed an executive order overruling local governments that enacted ordinances requiring face coverings and prohibited similar orders in the future.

Kemp’s order asserted the state’s right to impose its own less-stringent guidelines, in which residents are merely “strongly urged” to wear masks “as practicable” in public.

The provision, included as part of the state’s general COVID-19 guidelines, explicitly voids mask mandates at the local level.

Kemp last week clashed with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms when she reintroduced a stay-home order in response to thousands of new cases in Fulton County. Kemp called the order “non-binding” and “legally unenforceable.”

In Oklahoma, the Tulsa City Council passed a mask requirement by a 7-2 vote Wednesday, less than a month after President Donald Trump held a re-election rally in the city.

Mayor G.T. Bynum was expected to sign the measure Thursday morning, which requires adults in public areas to wear face coverings at all times.

“We will continue to do what we have to do to protect our local healthcare system,” Bynum said.

The ordinance came on the same day Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he tested positive for COVID-19.

In Arizona, Maricopa County has ordered portable body coolers to cope with the number of rising deaths.

Spokesman Fields Moseley said the added deaths have led to a “surge capacity” designation for the county morgue. Officials ordered four coolers to address the lack of space for the dead.

New cases in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, have flattened at around 2,500 new per day during the last week, officials noted.


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