Florida has broken its record for daily COVID-19 cases, reporting its highest one-day total since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to new numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Federal health data showed that the state recorded a whopping 21,683 new cases on Friday. The news makes Florida the new COVID-19 epicenter in the US, according to the Associated Press.
The pace of new infections in Florida appears to be rapidly rising; the state recorded just 17,093 cases the previous day and just 13,256 one week before that.
Previously, Florida's highest number of daily cases was 19,334 on January 7, 2021. Though CDC figures show a spike of 30,531 cases on January 2, that figure actually encompassed January 1 as well, according to The Palm Beach Post.
In just the past week, confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida spiked by more than 50%, according to state health data.
The Florida Department of Health said in a recent report that it recorded more than 110,000 new cases from June 23 to June 29. In the week prior, there were about 73,000 cases reported.
For weeks, Florida has marked continuous surges in the number of positive coronavirus cases. The counts have risen so much that one out of every five coronavirus cases in the United States now comes from Florida.
Amid the rise in cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly criticized mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which last week urged vaccinated people to now wear face coverings indoors.
On Friday, DeSantis signed an executive order that barred schools from mandating kids wear masks.
"The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day," he said.
DeSantis brought the point home during a press conference, saying both he and his wife are "not going to do the mask with the kids."
At the same time as the spike in cases in the past week, vaccinations also shot up, increasing by about 15%, state health data shows. About 50% of Florida's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Weekly case counts in Florida are beginning to match some of the worst weeks for the state in the history of the coronavirus pandemic. State data shows that the new coronavirus cases in the past week either match or surpass the rate in January — before vaccines were widely available.