Despite nearly 28,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last two days, Florida has announced no new measures such as a statewide mask mandate, and Disney World in Orlando remains open for business.
President Donald Trump demands schools reopen nationwide for in-person learning in the autumn. His campaign views reopening schools as necessary for economic recovery, allowing working parents with young children to be more productive.
Trump trails his presumptive Democratic opponent in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election, Joe Biden, in opinion polls both national and in swing states that decide elections.
Florida along with Arizona, California and Texas have emerged as the new US epicenters of the pandemic. Infections have risen rapidly in about 40 of the 50 states over the last two weeks, according to a Reuters analysis Linda Stuart, 70, a lifelong resident of Orlando, Florida, said she and her family were staying at home except to go to the grocery and were "painfully aware" how quickly cases are rising.
"But sadly, too many people aren't listening," she said. "This should be terrifying them, but it isn't. Not enough people are even wearing masks."
The rise in Florida cases emerged hours after Trump took swipes at health experts in his government leading the US response to the pandemic and his relationship further frayed with infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
On Sunday, Florida reported a record increase of more than 15,000 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours. If Florida were a country, that would rank it fourth in the world for the most new cases in a day, behind the United States, Brazil and India, according to a Reuters analysis.
Florida's Disney World welcomed the public on Saturday for the first time since March with guests required to wear masks, undergo temperature checks and keep physically apart.
Walt Disney Co faces a starkly different response in Hong Kong where the government has ordered the Disneyland theme park to close due to rising coronavirus cases.
Hong Kong recorded 52 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing total cases to 1,522. In Florida's Orange County, home to Disney World, cases rose by 623 to a total of 18,624, the fifth highest outbreak in the state's counties.
With over 7.5 million residents, Hong Kong has more than five times the population of Orange County.