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Coronavirus update: Death toll continues to rise, Florida remains a hotspot

An anti-vaccine radio host has died of COVID-19

Photo (c) Dakuk - Getty Images
Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 38,818,764 (38,756,508)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 637,658 (632,275)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 216,664,634 (216,213,175)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,505,400 (4,498,657)‌

U.S. deaths continue to climb

Analysts poring over data from the COVID-19 Tracking Project at Johns Hopkins University report that news about the coronavirus continues to get worse. They say death rates increased in 42 states last week. In 14 states, deaths increased by more than 50%.

Alabama state health officer Dr. Scott Harris told CNN that so many people have died that some hospitals have run out of morgue space for the bodies of COVID-19 patients.

"We have enough people dying that there is no room to put these bodies," Harris said. "We are really in a crisis situation. I don't know how much longer we're going to be able to do this."

Florida remains an epicenter

The COVID-19 situation remains grim in Florida, but hospitalizations decreased over the last week. However, demand for beds in intensive care units (ICU) continues to climb, suggesting that cases not requiring hospital treatment are more severe.

Officials report that more than 53% of ICU beds in the state are filled with COVID-19 patients. State records show there have been more than 3,000 COVID-19 patients in the ICU each day since Aug. 9.

Meanwhile, a Florida judge has blocked the state from enforcing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order that prohibits school districts from requiring masks to be worn in classrooms. A handful of larger school districts in the state have defied the governor’s order and challenged it in court.

Anti-vaccine radio host dies of COVID-19

Conservative talk show host Marc Bernier, who criticized the COVID-19 vaccines and urged his listeners not to get vaccinated, has died of COVID-19. His death was reported by WNDB Radio in Daytona, Fla., where he had been on the air for more than 30 years.

According to Politico, he is the third conservative radio vaccine opponent to die of the virus. Another Florida conservative radio host who had criticized the coronavirus vaccine, Dick Farrel, died Aug. 4. Phil Valentine, a conservative radio host in Nashville who had questioned the need for the vaccines, died last week.

In Texas, Caleb Wallace, who led a campaign against face mask mandates, died Saturday of COVID-19. ABC News reports that Wallace wrote a letter to the local school district in April, demanding that it rescind all its COVID-19 protocols.

Around the nation

  • Massachusetts: People in Boston are now required to wear face masks in all indoor public spaces. Officials have declined to issue a statewide mask mandate and instead have left it up to local jurisdictions to decide. This week, Newton and Cambridge will also require masks.

  • Texas: More than 8,000 medical workers have arrived in the state in recent days to help overwhelmed hospitals cope with the surge in COVID-19 cases. The reinforcements include nurses, respiratory therapists, and other contract staff.

  • North Carolina: Classes have just resumed, but two state universities, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and North Carolina State, are reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases. Officials from both schools insist that the spread is not occurring in classrooms.

  • Ohio: While cases of COVID-19 are increasing across the state, wildlife officials say they have determined that some wild white-tailed deer have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Virus experts say people with COVID-19 should be careful around pets because humans can transmit the disease to animals.

  • Nevada: State health officials say case levels are still high, but they note that the numbers are trending in the right direction. A total of seven counties --  Pershing, Humboldt, Eureka, White Pine, Lincoln, and Lander -- have been removed from Nevada’s “high risk” list.

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