Alabama and Florida reported their respective states’ highest single-day death tolls on Tuesday since the coronavirus pandemic began.
In its 10 a.m. update, the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed 40 single-day deaths. It also has 56,441 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with an increase of 1,673 since Monday.
Florida confirmed 132 coronavirus deaths, a 10% increase from the previous record set Thursday, but one that likely includes deaths from Saturday or Sunday not reported until Monday.
Florida’s rolling seven-day average is 81 deaths per day, currently the second highest in the country behind Texas and double the 39 average two weeks ago. Doctors had been predicting a surge in deaths because Florida’s daily reported infection cases have gone from about 2,000 a day to more than 12,000 in the last month.
That is partly driven by increased testing. However, the percentage of tests coming back positive has increased from 6% a month ago to more than 18%.
Also Tuesday, North Carolina reported a record number of hospitalizations — 1,109 — and 1,956 new cases.
Elsewhere, Oklahoma reported a single-day record increase in COVID-19 cases, 993 with four more deaths.
When COVID-19 was ravaging New York three months ago, it recorded 799 deaths on April 9 and had a top seven-day average of 763 deaths on April 14. It now has one of the lowest death rates in the country per capita, recording 10 per day during the last week.
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On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced another round of blistering criticism over an internal report that found no strong link between a controversial state directive that sent thousands of recovering coronavirus patients into nursing homes and some of the nation’s deadliest nursing home outbreaks.
Scientists, health care professionals and elected officials assailed the report released last week for failing to address the actual impact of the March 25 order, which by the state’s own count ushered more than 6,300 recovering virus patients into nursing homes at the height of the pandemic.
And some accused the state of using the veneer of a scientific study to absolve the Democratic governor by reaching the same conclusion he had been floating for weeks — that unknowingly infected nursing home employees were the main drivers of the outbreaks.
Cuomo, who has been praised for leadership that helped flatten the curve of infections in New York, has also been criticized over his handling of nursing homes, specifically the order that told homes they could not refuse to accept recovering COVID-19 patients from hospitals as long as the patients were “medically stable.” The order barred homes from even testing such patients to see if they still had the virus.
The directive was intended to free up hospital beds for the sickest patients as cases surged. But relatives, patient advocates and nursing home administrators have called it a misguided decision, blaming it for helping to spread the virus among the state’s most vulnerable residents.
Cuomo reversed the order under pressure May 10, long after New York’s death toll in care homes had climbed to among the highest in the nation. To date, nearly 6,500 deaths have been linked to the coronavirus in the state’s nursing home and long-term care-facilities.
But the 33-page state report flatly says “that nursing home admissions from hospitals were not a driver of nursing home infections or fatalities.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.