Florida hits record high for single-day COVID-19 cases

Florida’s cases of COVID-19 hit a single-day record high on Thursday with an increase of 19, 816 new cases reported.

"While we expected [the increase], it's horrible news," said University of South Florida Health policy dean Dr. Jay Wolfson.

He expects it to get even worse because the impact of holiday gatherings, including New Year's Eve parties in Ybor City have not yet baked into the numbers.

"People are behaving as if it isn't going to be a problem for them," Wolfson explained. "Yet when they do that, they take it out of there and give it to other people. But it doesn't happen right away."

Kaiser Family Foundation state COVID-19 case data

LINK: COVID-19 vaccine distribution information in Tampa Bay area counties

Commissioners in both Hillsborough and Pinellas County again expressed frustration with the governor, who said Wednesday he would not allow tighter restrictions because he says they don't work.

"We will categorically not allow any local government to lock people down," DeSantis said.

DeSantis maintains opposition to local COVID-19 rules

Gov. Ron DeSantis strongly reaffirmed his opposition to local government officials’ attempts to impose their own rules to curb the spread of COVID-19, saying Wednesday that such measures "are not effective."

While the city of Tampa has pledged a crackdown on bars that don't enforce mask requirements, Hillsborough County discussed Wednesday requiring restaurants to require masks even in outdoor seating.

"There is not another county commission meeting for two weeks," said Hillsborough County commissioner Harry Cohen. "Between now and then, an awful lot of disease is going to spread if people do not start taking this seriously."

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Also increasing is the percent of positive tests, which statewide is 11.6 percent. In Hillsborough, positivity is averaging 15 percent. And in Pinellas, where positivity was once between two and three percent, it is now over 10 percent.

"It really is a more global behavior in our community that people have let their guard down," said Commissioner Charlie Justice. "For those taking it seriously, it's frustrating because you have been doing all the right things for so long."

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know

AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com

Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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