Florida, Texas post daily COVID-19 records as 'positivity' rates climb


For a sixth straight day, Texas also registered an all-time high in the number of people hospitalised with the highly contagious respiratory illness - 7,890 patients after 238 new admissions over the past 24 hours.

By comparison, New York state - the US epicentre of the outbreak months ago, reported just 844 hospitalisations on Saturday, far below the nearly 19,000 hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients at the peak of its coronavirus crisis.

During the first four days of July alone, a total of 14 states have posted a daily record increases in the number of individuals testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has killed nearly 130,000 Americans.

And in a further sign the virus is spreading, at least 18 states, including the three most highly populated - California, Texas and Florida - have posted ominous rates of infection as a percentage of diagnostic tests over the past two weeks.

The recent surge, most pronounced in Southern and Western states that were among the latest to impose mandatory business restrictions at the outset of the pandemic and the first to relax them, alarmed public health officials ahead of weekend July Fourth holiday celebrations.

The majority of Independence Day fireworks displays across the country have been cancelled, as state and local authorities urged Americans to avoid large crowds, practice safe social distancing and wear face coverings while out in public.

Not everyone heeded those warnings. Video images posted on social media showed tightly packed crowds of swimsuit-clad young adults dancing to rock music in the shallows of Diamond Lake, a boating and recreational site in Cassopolis, Michigan.

Beaches were closed across much of Southern California and South Florida through the holiday weekend due to the coronavirus resurgence. But the seaside resort of Ocean City, Maryland, was open to the public, as were beaches along Alabama's Gulf Coast and Clearwater, Florida.

Florida's confirmed coronavirus cases rose by a record 11,458 on Saturday, the state's health department said, marking the second time in three days that its caseload jumped by more than 10,000 in 24 hours.

The latest case numbers in Florida, which has yet to report statewide hospitalisations, surpassed the highest daily tally reported by any European county during the height of the coronavirus outbreak there.