Florida, which has been grappling with a fast-growing outbreak, set a record on Thursday for the most deaths reported in a single day: 120. That brought the state’s death count to above 4,000, the ninth highest tally in the nation. And it raised concerns that the state, which has so far seen far fewer deaths than the states that saw the first spikes this spring, could be entering a deadlier phase.
Cases in the state have doubled since late June; on Thursday, the state reported more than 8,930 new cases. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said at a news conference Thursday that as testing has expanded, some labs have grown slow to return test results as they see a growing backlog of cases, leaving people unsure of whether to isolate while their test is being processed, particularly if they are not showing symptoms.
He said that the state was working to speed up the processing of tests for people with symptoms.
Even as the state continues to set records for new cases and deaths, Mr. DeSantis continued to press for schools to reopen, which Mr. Trump has made a priority.
“If fast food and Walmart and Home Depot — and I do all that so I’m not, like, looking down on it — but if all that is essential, then educating our kids is absolutely essential,” he said. “And they have been put to the back of the line in some respects.”
The virus continues to upend life in Florida. At one Miami television station, WPLG Local 10, at least nine employees, including a news anchor, have come down with Covid-19 or tested positive, and another 150 people linked to the station were awaiting test results.
In a report broadcast on Wednesday, the anchor, Nicole Perez, and her husband, Roy Ramos, a reporter for the station, were interviewed about the symptoms they were experiencing. Calvin Hughes, Ms. Perez’s co-anchor, told viewers: “This is not a political message here, this is a personal one. Please, please, wear your mask.”
At least one other state — Tennessee — also recorded its highest single-day death toll on Thursday, with 22.