MIAMI – John Delgado has slept in a tent in his courtyard for 57 nights and beyond.
As an inventory manager for Farm Share, a huge food bank in South Florida, Mr. Delgado, 51, finds himself holding his breath under the cover of his face as he talks to the many customers who come in without masks, for fear that coronavirus particles will filter through the tissue.
Since he interacts with the public every day, Mr. Delgado sleeps outdoors to avoid contaminating his wife, the aging mother-in-law, three children and his grandson. At night, he sometimes peeks out the window to see his wife sleep. During the day, he does socially distant construction work with his children.
“How long will it last?”
For the second consecutive day, Florida broke its previous record of new coronavirus cases on Saturday, reporting 9,585 infections. Another 8,530 were reported on Sunday.
The hospital closest to Mr. Delgado’s home in Homestead, 40 miles south of Miami, is running out as Covid-19 cases skyrocket. The situation in Miami is equally serious: a third of all patients admitted to the main public hospital in the city in the last two weeks after going to the emergency room for car accident injuries and other urgent problems were positive for Covid-19.
The six-hour lines formed in Jacksonville over the weekend as thousands of people flocked to do drive-through tests. Orlando has seen a coronavirus explosion: nearly 60 percent of all cases diagnosed in that county have arrived in the past two weeks.
Much of Florida’s new wave of cases seems to follow from the reopening of beaches, bars, restaurants and other social activities. The beaches of the state are full and a crowd of revelers fills its streams on boats.
Many people have had enough to stay inside, feeling trapped and scared. When the fear subsided, the coronavirus grew.
Florida now joins South Carolina and Nevada among the states that broke the daily records on the weekend.
“I’m one of the people who contributed 9,000 people to the day,” said Ian Scott, a 19-year-old university student in Orlando who proved positive on Friday. He has no idea how he did it.
Scott said that getting tested was a fun pastime for young people. They challenge each other to see who can undergo the nasal swab test without crying. About half of its brotherhood has proved positive.
“We are seeing positive, positive, positive, positive,” he said. “My generation says,” Let’s fix it. Let’s suck it in for two weeks, sit in our rooms, play video games, play with our phones, finish lessons online and it’s over. “
Mr. Scott felt barely ill and was fine when the test results returned. Patients like him could help explain the fact that while the daily Florida case count has increased fivefold in two weeks, the death rate has not increased so far. State records show that hospitalization rates have increased, but are not at crisis levels.
Governor Ron DeSantis said more people over 90 years of age died from Covid than children under 65.
The average age of new coronavirus patients is now 36 years, said the Department of Health.
“These groups are much less at risk from very serious consequences,” said Governor DeSantis of younger patients. But they can spread the virus to their older relatives and others who are medically vulnerable without even realizing it, he stressed.
Officials have so far done little to stop public interactions. The mayor of a wealthy suburb of Miami pleaded with residents this week to stop organizing parties; On Friday, state officials banned the sale of alcohol in bars. The counties of Miami-Dade and Broward have chosen to close its beaches for the hectic weekend of July 4th.
Governor DeSantis said the wave of new cases can be attributed to the huge number of test results that arrive every day. But he acknowledged that since the second week of June, the percentage of tests that have turned positive has been increasing. This trend coincided with the reopening of the economy and also with the beginning of the recent street protests.
Across the state, approx 20 percent of people aged 25 to 34 are proving positive, he said at a press conference on Sunday.
He said the risk also increased when outside temperatures rise and people seek relief in the air conditioning.
“While it’s hotter in Florida, people want to beat the heat,” he said. “They are more likely to do so indoors, indoors. This will increase the risk of coronavirus transmission.”
Florida public health experts fear that the growing number of cases will lead to a crush on hospitalizations and ultimately deaths.
“We know there is a delay,” said Natalie E. Dean, assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.
Although young people are less likely to have severe cases, the long-term consequences of Covid-19 infection among young people are still unknown, he said. “Some people get sick enough,” he said. “Even what is classified as a mild disease, some people really manage to blow the wind for a week.”
Mariely Ferraro, 40, an Orlando-based heart monitoring technician, captured Covid-19 seven weeks ago and was unable to shake it.
“I think the situation in Florida is appalling,” he said. “The numbers are going up and the numbers are scary. I wish there was a way to explain it. If there were 9000 people in a day, are they symptomatic? Do they have a fever? They are sick?
The entire family of Ms. Ferraro caught the virus last month, but only she is still ill. Her 13 and 14 year old daughters had very mild symptoms, losing their sense of taste and smell for a while.
“The whole age is: I don’t mean offensive, but that’s not true,” he said. “Coronavirus is affecting everyone. People who protest against the masks think it is fake. It is not untrue. It sucks to wake up and you can’t catch your breath or have a headache that you can’t get rid of, no matter how much Advil you take. It sucks to take a shower and fall because you’re dizzy. “
Shamarial Roberson, deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Health, said in an interview Sunday that the state is monitoring hospitalization and intensive care capabilities and looking at problem areas.
One of them is a blowout at a meat packaging plant in Suwannee county in northern Florida, he said.
“We are working to make sure that if we are seeing wheelies, we are communicating with those hospital systems to ensure their capacity,” he said. “I’m keeping an eye on the whole state of Florida.”
Rose Castanon, 35, who works on the business side of a hospital chain in Orlando, tested positive on June 18 after her gym warned her of another client that he had been infected.
“I know nearly 10 people who have proven positive,” he said. “All our friends are freaking out, because now they are getting a little too close to home.”
Jeanette Matas, a 41-year-old teacher of reading in Coral Gables, Florida, had limited her visits to her 95-year-old grandmother, Reina L. Palacios, not to put her at risk. But her grandmother ended up catching the virus from her 40-year-old home health care worker. Palacios died on June 17th.
“You can’t blame them for feeling trapped,” Matas said of people who have lost patience with isolation and have started socializing in public again. “I feel like they’re stupid. They don’t realize what they’re doing. They’re just thinking about themselves.”
Now, Ms. Matas has said she is in conflict over what to do with her two children when it’s time to go to school.
“Parents are afraid; teachers are afraid, “he said.” I don’t know what to do. I think about it every day. “
Amaris Castillo in Tampa and Patricia Mazzei in Miami contributed to the report.