Florida reported 15,299 confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day on Sunday. This is the largest increase in infections since the pandemic started, increasing the total number of cases in the state to 269,811.
The Florida Department of Health also reported that 45 more people died from the virus, increasing the death toll to 4,346 nationwide. The increase in cases reported on Sunday surpassed Florida's previous daily record of 11,393 by nearly 4,000.
Nearly 143,000 people were tested in Florida on Saturday, with 11.25% of the results positive for coronavirus. This is Florida's lowest rate of positive test results since late June as more people receive tests. On Wednesday, the percentage of people tested who were positive for the virus was much higher at 18.35%.
Admiral Brett Giroir, who oversees the Trump administration's testing efforts, said the rate of positive test results has flattened this week, although it remains high in hotspot states. Giroir said he expects hospitalizations and deaths to increase in the next two to three weeks before leveling off and then decreasing.
"We expect the number of deaths to increase. If you have more cases and more hospital stays, we will expect to do so in the next two or three weeks before that changes," Giroir told ABC's "This Week".
"We are not at all convinced, we are all very concerned," he said, "but we have seen a leveling of what we call percentage positive this week. That is our kind of first indicator when we level that." We'll see emergency rooms drop, hospital stays drop. "
However, Giroir warned that the course of the virus depends on mitigation measures by state and local governments. To reverse the current trend, 90% of people in hotspot areas have to wear masks in public, he said.
Bars should close, restaurants should reduce their capacity, and in some cases, locks should be on the table, he said.
As the virus spreads across Florida, Republican governor Ron DeSantis has suspended local alcohol consumption in bars, but has refused calls for a nationwide mask mandate. Local authorities, such as the district governments in Miami-Dade and Broward, the state's two most populous districts, have used masks in all public spaces.
Even though Florida continues to report record infections, the state is expected to host the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville next month and schools will have to reopen at least five days a week in August.
Disney also began gradually reopening its Florida theme parks, with the leadership boasting new security measures and changes in operations.
The state's testing offer is running low and some local officials fear that hospitals with an influx of patients will soon reach their capacity. The Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Gimenez, told CNN on Sunday that "it will not be long before" the hospitals in his county reach capacity.
Florida has become an important epicenter of the US outbreak, with most flare-ups in states located in the south and west.
In Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas, all hotspots for the virus, average daily fatalities have reached record levels in recent days, and health experts warn that deaths will continue to increase in the coming weeks.
In an interview with CBS on Sunday, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb predicted that the southern states are likely to peak in the next two to three weeks, after which he warned of an "expanded plateau".
At least 134,000 people in the U.S. have died since the March outbreak began, and, according to Johns Hopkins University, more than 3 million cases have been reported nationwide.