Florida virus deaths surpass 10,000 as teachers, state argue
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The number of people in Florida confirmed to have died from the new coronavirus surpassed 10,000 Wednesday, as teachers and state officials argued in court over whether brick-and-mortar schools should be forced to reopen this month.
Florida reported 174 deaths Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths for residents and nonresidents to at least 10,067 — the fifth highest death toll in the nation. Florida’s daily average reported deaths over the past week was 167 deaths. Two weeks ago, it peaked at 185 deaths.
The state reported a total of 584,047 coronavirus cases, a daily increase of 4,115 cases.
Hospitalizations for the virus have been declining for nearly a month, and the growth in new cases has been decelerating. The positivity rate for COVID-19 testing in Florida has averaged about 11.4% over the past week.
There were 5,351 patients being treated for the disease in Florida hospitals early Wednesday — down from peaks above 9,500 patients in late July.
“Those are all good trends. Those are all positive signs,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a discussion on mental health in Altamonte Springs.
Meanwhile, Florida’s largest teacher’s union argued with attorneys for the state of Florida during a hearing over whether schools should reopen during the pandemic.
The Florida Education Association sued Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Florida Department of Education and others to stop brick-and-mortar schools from physically reopening, arguing it is unsafe to do so until the spread of the virus is under control.
The teacher’s union is seeking an injunction from a judge in Tallahassee to stop enforcement of a state order requiring schools to be open five days a week, starting this month.