Florida has reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to federal health data released on Saturday.
The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the US.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and along with the Florida Legislature, has limited local officials’ ability to impose measures meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.
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The figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday showed how quickly the number of cases is rising in the Sunshine State. Only a day earlier, Florida reported 17,093 new daily cases.
The previous peak in Florida had been 19,334 cases reported on January 7.
Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld are the latest theme park resorts in Florida to again ask visitors to wear masks indoors, with Universal also ordering its employees to wear face coverings to protect against COVID-19, which has been surging across the state.
All workers at Universal's Florida park on Saturday started being required to wear masks while indoors as the employees returned to practicing social distancing. The home to Harry Potter and Despicable Me rides also asked visitors to follow federal and local health guidelines by voluntarily wearing face coverings indoors.
“The health and safety of our guests and team members is always our top priority," Universal said in a statement.
Health officials on Friday announced that coronavirus cases in Florida had jumped 50 percent over the past week with COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state nearing last year’s peak.
SeaWorld on Saturday posted on its website that it was recommending that visitors follow recently updated federal recommendations and wear face coverings while indoors.
The change in policy this week at the theme park resorts came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that everyone wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
Crosstown rival Walt Disney World started requiring employees and guests older than 2 to wear masks on Friday, but it also went a step further. The Walt Disney Company said in a statement that it will be requiring all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the US who work on site to be fully vaccinated.
Disney employees who aren’t already vaccinated will have 60 days to do so and those still working from home will need to show proof of vaccination before returning. Disney said it was discussing the vaccine requirements with the union, and added that all new hires will be required to be fully vaccinated before starting work at the company.