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Florida faces ongoing surge in coronavirus cases as Disney World starts to reopen

The United States reported 58,600 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday as parts of the country continue to face a spike in infections, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Florida has become an epicenter of the pandemic, with more than 232,000 reported cases and over 4,000 deaths due to the virus. 

"We're seeing patients come in on the hour," said Dr. Randy Katz, an ER physician at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. 

"CBS This Morning" lead national correspondent David Begnaud reports that on an average day they would see 250 patients. Katz said they received 250 suspected COVID-19 patients by noon Wednesday.

"This is absolutely the busiest it's been since it all started," Katz said.

Despite the surge, two of Disney World's parks — the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom — are welcoming some passholders on Thursday and Friday for a "preview." The parks will officially reopen on Saturday, followed by Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios on July 15, with new rules in place. 

Everyone will be required to practice social distancing and wear a mask. Park hopping will not be allowed and reservations are required to enter. 

Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he believes Disney is well-prepared and said he has "no doubt it is going to be a safe environment."

"I am really impressed with what Universal has done and I have looked at Disney's plan and it is very, very thorough," he said.

But a spokesman for Actors' Equity Association, which represents Disney performers, said "the epidemic must be under control with contact tracing" for the parks to reopen "and that is not the case in Florida." 

"We don't believe the workplace plan is safe," said Brandon Lorenz. "It has risks not just for the workers but for the guests."

Walt Disney World Near Orlando To Reopen On Saturday
A view of the Walt Disney World theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on July 8, 2020. Getty Images

A Disney spokeswoman said seven unions that represent thousands of staff signed agreements to go back to work. The spokeswoman, Andrea M. Finger, said the company is "moving forward carefully and methodically."

Over the last 14 days, new cases across Florida have more than doubled. But critical data, like the number of Floridians currently hospitalized, is still unknown. And now some first responders are losing access to the addresses of confirmed and suspected infections.

Florida is one of at least four states the White House coronavirus task force says is in a "red zone" on its risk scale.

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At a briefing Wednesday, Dr. Deborah Birx asked Americans in those zones to do the following: "Not only use the face coverings — not going to bars, not going to indoor dining, but really not gathering in homes either, and decreasing those gatherings back down to our phase one recommendation, which was 10 or less."

In Texas, another "red zone," state officials ordered the immediate evacuation of more than 60 residents at the Lake Worth nursing home near Dallas. Twenty-five residents there have tested positive for the virus.

As CBS News' Mireya Villareal reports, Texas just reported its deadliest day of the pandemic, with nearly 100 deaths on Wednesday. 

More than 220,000 cases have been reported across Texas and over 2,800 people there have died from the virus. Hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last two weeks.

White House names coronavirus "red zones," encourages them to scale back reopening 04:22

Arizona is another "red zone," and fewer than 150 ICU beds are available statewide. Phoenix Fire Department captain Rob McDade said COVID-19 calls are off the charts in some parts of the city and that close to 100 firefighters have likely been infected.

"It was humbling, I think, to our department to see so many of our members get it so quickly," he said. 

"We go into any and all situations that are dangerous," he said. "This is different."

-Contributing: The Associated Press

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