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Onslaught of cases continues in Florida as hospitals fill

Florida reported nearly 9,500 new coronavirus cases Friday, just shy of its daily record. Lynne Sladky/Associated Press/Associated Press

MIAMI — Florida reported 9,488 new confirmed cases and 67 deaths, a day after setting a new daily record with more than 10,000 cases.

The state’s health department’s tally of hospitalizations was higher Friday at 341 new admissions, one of the biggest daily increases since the pandemic began. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez cited staffing shortages at hospitals in announcing a new curfew beginning Friday.

Statewide, about 20 percent of ICU beds are currently available, though some hospitals have additional capacity that can be turned into ICU units.

Ten Democratic legislators urged Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday to require Floridians to wear masks. They want the governor to make masks mandatory in public spaces, indoors and outdoors, when social distancing isn’t possible. The Republican governor has resisted those calls.

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“This is not a partisan issue; this is an issue of life and death,” the legislators said in a letter to DeSantis. “This small but important gesture will have big consequences for the greater good.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Kansas cases keep rising; mask mandate kicks in

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas has reported another big increase in new coronavirus cases that capped its worst two-week spike since the pandemic began.

The state health department released its latest figures Friday as a statewide mask mandate from the governor took effect.

The Department of Health and Environment reported that Kansas has had 15,919 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, up 929, or 6.2 percent since only Wednesday. Kansas also has reported 277 COVID-19-related deaths, up five in two days.

Kansas reported an average of 276 new coronavirus cases a day over the past two weeks. That was the largest 14-day average since the state confirmed its first case March 7. The previous peak for the 14-day average was 271 on May 11.

Governor Laura Kelly’s mask order requires people to wear masks in public and at their workplaces. However, state law allows the state’s 105 counties to opt out, and even if they don’t, officials don’t expect vigorous enforcement.

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Arizona hospitalizations spike; ICUs nearly full

PHOENIX — Arizona has reached new peaks in hospitalizations and emergency room visits, indicating the state is only intensifying as a coronavirus hot spot.

State health officials say the capacity of hospital intensive care units is at an all-time high of 91 percent.

The number of people hospitalized Thursday due to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 was 3,013, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. It’s the first time reaching 3,000.

People who went to the ER because of COVID-19 symptoms numbered a record 1,847, nearly 500 more than a day earlier.

The state reported Friday 4,433 confirmed cases and 31 deaths. The total stands at 91,858 cases and 1,788 deaths.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

New York county issues subpoenas to trace virus

After a woman in Rockland County, N.Y., admitted to throwing her daughter a party while showing coronavirus symptoms, contact tracers sprung into action.

They phoned dozens of guests, hoping to get the partygoers tested and isolated and stop an emerging coronavirus cluster in its tracks. But many of the attendees hung up, handed the calls to their parents, or flat-out lied, saying they never made it to the event on June 17. Others never picked up at all.

So this week, county health officials tried a much more drastic approach. They issued subpoenas to eight of the partygoers, ordering them to speak up to the disease detectives or face a fine of up to $2,000 a day — and it worked.

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‘‘It’s amazing how smart some people got,’’ Ed Day, the county executive, told CNN on Thursday. ‘‘Everybody is complying and helping us, which is all that we’re trying to have happen . . . We’re not looking to be punitive here.’’

WASHINGTON POST

Patients on ventilators increasingly likely to live

An increasing number of US COVID-19 patients are surviving after they are placed on mechanical ventilators, a last-resort measure that was perceived as a signal of impending death during the terrifying early days of the pandemic.

Early reports out of Wuhan, China, and Italy cemented the impression that the vast majority of patients who required the breathing devices ultimately succumbed to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

But as the pandemic has continued, US hospitals are reporting much lower mortality rates, results on par with death rates for patients with similar severe lung problems caused by other diseases.

Experts say that’s because clinicians have become more skilled and are deploying new tactics as they learn more about the course of COVID-19; some are using ventilators more selectively; many hospitals are less overwhelmed than when the virus first inundated Wuhan, parts of Italy and New York City; and early data on ventilation and death did not present a true picture.

‘‘Being on a ventilator right now in our hands is no different than it would be any day of the year,’’ said Greg Martin, a professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and president-elect of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

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In a May 26 study in the journal Critical Care Medicine, Martin and a group of colleagues found that 35.7 percent of COVID-19 patients who required ventilators died — a significant percentage but much lower than early reports that put the figure in the upper 80 percent range.

Use of drugs such as remdesivir, which shortens the recovery time for some of the sickest patients, and the steroid dexamethasone have helped as well.

WASHINGTON POST

GOP in Texas goes ahead with in-person party event

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Republican Party is moving ahead with a three-day convention in Houston, one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots, over opposition from doctors and some local party activists.

Party leaders voted Thursday night to stick with an in-person gathering starting July 16. The event is typically one of the largest political conventions in America, drawing thousands of attendees, and some supporters suggested that changing plans is not what President Trump would want.

The vote came hours after Republican Governor Greg Abbott issued a statewide mask order as COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas set another high Thursday. Hospitals in Houston have warned they are becoming stretched and the Texas Medical Association has called for canceling the convention, saying now was not the time to pack thousands of people indoors.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, has left the decisions about the convention up to the GOP. Abbott has also not taken a position on whether his party should go forward with meeting in person.

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