U.S. South grapples with Delta case surge

Lines of cars on Monday were backed up at some COVID-19 testing sites in Florida, as the Delta variant sweeps through the American South.

One Florida county health official said the new surge is the largest yet.

“These are the longest lines I have seen. Surely what is motivating this is what we are seeing media -- rising COVID cases across the country, across the states, across the county.”

U.S. officials say Florida faces one of the worst outbreaks in the nation.

Government health data shows it now has about a quarter of those Americans hospitalized by the disease.

The head of the state’s hospital association said the current surge saw hospitalizations skyrocket from 2,000 a day, to 10,000 in less than a month. That breaks a previous record.

Deaths, however, have remained well below the last peak.

Meanwhile, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has resisted mask or vaccine mandates.

Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled state limited local officials’ ability to impose COVID restrictions and last week, DeSantis issued an executive order barring schools from mandating masks in the classroom, as students return this month.

Other states across the south, like Arkansas and Louisiana, are following Florida’s trend in hospitalizations, and could eventually break their state records.

It's prompted Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to reinstate an indoor mask mandate.

To curb the crisis, top government and health officials continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated.

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