ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida reported 15,300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, shattering state and U.S. records for single-day cases. The statewide total, including nonresidents, is now 269,811.

New York previously held the record for most daily cases reported by a state since the pandemic began, announcing 12,274 on April 4.

On Sunday, Florida also broke its record for most tests administered in a day with 99,003. More than 2.5 million people have been tested in the state to date.

The latest positivity rate of new cases statewide was 11.25%, according to the Florida Department of Health. That’s the lowest rate reported in the past two weeks. The highest rate for the same period was 18.35% for cases reported Wednesday.

Central Floridians had reported lengthy delays getting test results. The relatively high number of tests announced Sunday suggest some of the pending tests may have cleared the backlog and been processed.

Central Florida now has 43,989 cases, up 2,545 from a day earlier. The majority were in Orange, who reported a record-breaking 1,371 new cases Sunday for a total of 18,001.

There are 263 new cases in Polk for 7,246, 146 in Seminole for 4,229, 306 in Osceola for 4,167, 171 in Volusia for 3,805; 132 in Brevard for 3,369; 123 in Lake for 2,517; and 33 in Sumter for 655.

45 new deaths were announced by the state Sunday, bringing the death toll to 4,242. With 104 non-resident deaths included, the toll is 4,346.

From Sunday to Sunday, the state posted a total of 69,700 cases, 511 deaths, and 374,718 tests — all of which break records for number of cases, deaths and tests reported in a single week.

In comparison, the week ending July 5 saw 59,036 new cases, 312 deaths and more than 318,000 tests administered.

Florida’s worst day for announced deaths came Thursday, with 120 resident fatalities reported, followed by Saturday with 95 and Friday with 93. To be clear, these are the days the deaths were reported by the state, not the day the deaths occurred.

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Central Florida had four of the deaths reported Sunday: two in Polk, and one each in Brevard and Seminole counties. These deaths bring the regional toll to 426.

Polk, due to nursing-home outbreaks, has the most coronavirus fatalities in Central Florida with 140, followed by 80 in Orange, 77 in Volusia, 31 in Osceola, 29 in Brevard, 27 in Lake, 24 in Seminole, and 18 in Sumter.

South Florida, home to 29% of Florida’s population, accounts for about 43% of cases with 115,487 total. That includes 6,519 new cases reported Sunday among Miami-Dade (64,444), Broward (30,025), and Palm Beach (21,018) counties.

South Florida’s reported deaths on Sunday rose by 28 for a total of 2,209, about 52% of the state’s total.

COVID-19 is spreading across Florida faster than anywhere except Arizona. South Florida, the epicenter of the pandemic in the state, surpassed 100,000 cases Friday.

Florida is outpacing the field in new cases and hospitalizations, which have both been on a steady, upward climb. Experts say the double-barreled trend could also cause Florida’s low death rate to rise in the coming weeks.

To date, 18,271 Florida residents have been hospitalized, Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard shows, 248 more than a day earlier.

7,542 Floridians were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of 3:16 p.m. Sunday, up by 35 since the last update with 7,507 at 1:45 p.m. and 48 from the 12:15 p.m. update on the state’s website. The tool updates several times throughout the day.

The data for current COVID-19 patients, which only started being released on Friday, does not show how many people are in general hospital beds or intensive care units.

In Central Florida, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties had more people with coronavirus in the hospital on Sunday.

As of 3:16 p.m. Sunday, all four Central Florida counties had maintained similar data to early Sunday reports. Orange had 542 patients remaining hospitalized, Osceola at 206, Seminole at 178, and Lake at 119. None of the four counties reported changes since 12:15 p.m. Sunday.

Miami-Dade still has the most hospital beds filled with coronavirus patients, reporting 1,678 Sunday afternoon.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez told CNN on Sunday that his county’s hospitals will soon reach capacity but he said more beds can be added, including for intensive care, the Associated Press reported.

“We still have capacity, but it does cause me a lot of concern,” he said.

The rise in hospitalizations comes as physicians and nurses have been working around the clock for months, and during the summer, when facilities are typically low staffed. Gov. Ron DeSantis just deployed 200 nurses to fill staffing shortages in Miami and Tampa, and has pledged to send hundreds more.

Florida on Thursday crossed the 4,000-death threshold for the pandemic. The state also drew the criticism of the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called out Florida for bypassing guidelines and opening too soon. “Certainly Florida,” he said, in an interview with the FiveThirtyEight podcast on Thursday, “jumped over a couple of checkpoints.”

Across the state, bars, restaurants and gyms began reopening in May — critics said it was too soon — and weeks later, the Sunshine State became one of the country’s virus hot spots, experiencing an alarming surge in cases. Restrictions have since been added, by DeSantis has declined to move back toward closing more businesses.

The virus has infected more than 12.7 million people and has killed over 565,000 worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. In the U.S., over 3.2 million people have been infected and over 134,000 killed.

The U.S. has the most fatalities by far, followed by Brazil with over 70,000, the United Kingdom with over 44,000, Italy and Mexico with over 34,000 each, France with over 30,000, Spain with over 28,000 and India with over 22,000.

Within the U.S., New York has the most deaths with over 32,000, followed by New Jersey with over 15,000.

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©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

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