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Florida reports more than 16,000 new COVID-19 cases to CDC on Tuesday

It's an increase not seen since the worst of the pandemic in early January.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida's surge in COVID-19 cases appears to be happening faster and more dramatically than previous increases throughout the pandemic, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The state reported a total of 16,038 new cases to the CDC for Tuesday, July 27. It was back on Jan. 15 when the state last reported a day with more than 16,000 cases.

The seven-day moving average of new cases tops 13,502 cases — a moving average not seen since the middle of winter when Florida experienced its worst outbreak of reported coronavirus cases.

CDC data also shows the number of patients hospitalized with a confirmed case of COVID-19 also is beginning to rival the wintertime peak.

On Tuesday, the CDC rolled back some masking guidelines for vaccinated people to help limit the spread of COVID-19, urging that even they return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the highly transmissible delta variant is behind the increasing number of cases.

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

People who are unvaccinated always have been asked to mask up.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said most new infections continue to be among unvaccinated people. But "breakthrough" infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. The delta variant has shown that the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is "indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, Walensky said. 

This new data, Walensky said, prompted the change, and "it is concerning enough that we feel like we have to act."

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat running to unseat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, held a press conference Wednesday to present the CDC data to "filling the current information-sharing void." She called upon the need for "timely updates" of COVID data from the state amid a surge in virus since it ceased providing daily updates in early June.

But DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw said in a statement that the data Fried is referring to is the data "reported to the CDC every day by the Florida Department of Health."

People 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people 18 up. All have been found to be effective against COVID-19 and help to limit severe illness and death, with a recent study finding two doses of the Pfizer vaccine offering 88-percent protection against infection caused by the delta variant.

Visit the Florida Department of Health's website to find a vaccine location near you.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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