Aug 2, 2021 - COVID
Florida's COVID-19 comeback
Illustration of a mask with an animated "no smoking" symbol over it, with the crossbar extending to different lengths, but never getting all the way across.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Tampa Bay region may be looking at some increased pandemic restrictions, though they're unlikely to come from the state government.

What's happening: Friday was Florida's worst day yet for coronavirus, with the state reporting 21,683 new cases — the highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic.

  • The last time we came near that number was at the start of the year, when the state reported 19,334 cases on Jan. 7, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Local impact: USF epidemiologist Dr. Edwin Michael told Fox 13 that, at this rate, the fourth wave will peak in Hillsborough County near the end of the month with about four times the rate of daily infections from the January spike.

  • Even though people are still getting vaccinated, the only thing we can do to slow the spread, Michael said, is to bring back social measures, like masks and distancing.

Remember: Most of the people getting sick from COVID are unvaccinated adults.

  • Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, 0.077% have tested positive for breakthrough infections and just 0.001% have died, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez and Danielle Alberti report.

State of play: While Gov. Ron DeSantis has been dismissive of Florida's position as America's COVID epicenter, calling the recent spike a "seasonal wave," businesses are starting to change course on their policies.

  • Over the weekend, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld followed Disney World in asking visitors to wear masks indoors again. Universal is also ordering employees to mask up indoors.
  • On Friday, Publix reinstated its mask requirement for employees, vaccinated or not, per the Bradenton Herald.
  • Event cancellations are back too. Minor league baseball games were canceled in Clearwater over the weekend, Ballpark Digest reports.
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