Mickey, Minnie and Goofy are going back to work Saturday as Disney World is pushing ahead with plans to reopen even as Florida continue to rack up a near-record number of new coronavirus cases.
The 11,433 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday was the state’s second-highest daily increase, behind the 11,458 reorded July 3. Additionally, the state health department reported 435 more hospitalizations — the state’s largest single-day increase.
Florida also reported 93 additional deaths Friday, bringing the statewide COVID-19 death toll above 4,100.
Dr. Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, told Variety the reopening of Disney World is a “terrible idea.”
“There are several hospitals that are running out of beds in Florida, with health workers warning that there are not going to be enough ventilators and enough rooms, and cases in the state are breaking new records daily,” said Rimoin. “Moving forward with reopening, I think, is inviting disaster.”
The move to allow people to return to the Magic Kingdom comes as the nationwide daily death toll from COVID-19 appears to be on the rise again, grim new NBC News numbers showed Friday.
There were 1,021 new deaths reported across the country on Thursday, the most since June 30, according to the figures.
Florida, with 120, was one of the five states accounting for more than half of Thursday’s reported fatalities, an NBC News analysis revealed.
The other states reporting the most COVID-19 deaths were New Jersey with 142, California with 131, Texas with 111, and Arizona with 75. Also, 19 states have seen their two-week death totals increase by more than 20 percent in the last two weeks.
Meanwhile, the U.S. appears to have set another unwanted record with more than 63,200 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, Johns Hopkins University is reporting.
That dismal new figure is higher than 56,667 new cases that NBC News, which has been compiling its own list of new cases and deaths since the pandemic started, tallied Friday.
But all that awful arithmetic was yet another reminder that the plague that President Donald Trump just a week ago predicted would “just disappear” continues to spread fast, especially in states like Texas, Florida and Arizona which reopened early and are now paying a steep price.
“We are living in the perfect storm,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a Financial Times interview published Friday.
“I think we have to realise that some states jumped ahead of themselves,” Fauci said. “Other states did it correctly. But the citizenry didn’t listen to the guidelines and they decided they were going to stay in bars and go to congregations of crowds and celebrations.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot echoed Fauci in an interview with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle.
“People seem to have forgotten that COVID is very much part of our present,” Lightfoot said,
Based on NBC’s tally, Florida had reported 232,718 cases and 4,110 deaths.
Texas has 239,657 cases and a death toll of 3,102, according to NBC News’ numbers from Thursday. And Arizona has reported 2,038 deaths and 112,671.
“I gotta tell you, I think the numbers are going to look worse as we go into next week,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told KRIV-TV in Houston on Thursday.