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Florida records another 12,000 virus cases, eyes ICU beds

A woman walks past empty tables at the Hosteria Romana restaurant, which is closed to customers, during the coronavirus pandemic, Sunday, July 12, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. Restaurants throughout Miami-Dade County are open only for outdoor dining, take-out and delivery. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida recorded more than 12,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases Monday after a record-setting weekend, a spike that partly reflects the large number of tests being performed.

The state reported 12,624 new cases out of more than 112,000 tests reported since Sunday, when the state reported 15,300 new cases, a national record.

The state has seen a positivity rate for tests of just over 11% the last two days. That is still four times the 2.3% rate the state had in late May, but a drop from the near 20% rate seen last week. Officials have said they want to get the rate below 5%.

The state added another 35 deaths Monday, with the one-week average remaining at 71 per day. The daily rate had been 30 deaths three weeks ago, and crept up to 44 last week before skyrocketing with a state record 120 deaths reported Thursday.

The increase in coronavirus cases has filled some Florida hospitals, or brought them close to their capacity.

At Cleveland Clinic in Broward County, less than 10% of its 230 beds are available, according to the state, and nine of its 48 intensive care beds were available Monday morning.

Dr. Rodolfo Blandon, its president, said he expects the number of ICU patients will increase through the end of the month, a result of the recent spike in cases.

“We know that these patients will likely seek medical care two to four weeks after they test positive,” he said.

His biggest concern is having enough nurses as coronavirus patients require extensive care — 20 are being brought in from other states to help.

On the positive side, Blandon said the virus seems to becoming less aggressive as it mutates — many patients aren’t getting as sick as others were in March and April, and he said the drug Remdesivir has been a promising treatment.

He said if the numbers keep spiking, he thinks the government will have to roll back some of the economy. After reopening its economy with restrictions throughout May, Florida recently re-closed bars because customers weren’t wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Miami-Dade County again recently prohibited restaurants from having indoor seating.

Still, Walt Disney World reopened over the weekend with limited crowds, making it the last of the state’s four major theme parks to do so.

Terry Spencer And Kelli Kennedy, The Associated Press