New cases of COVID-19 rose by nearly 69,000 across the United States on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, setting a record for the third consecutive day as Walt Disney Co. stuck to its plans to reopen its flagship theme park in hard-hit Florida.
A total of eight US states - Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Ohio, Utah and Wisconsin - also reached records for single-day infections.
In Texas, another hot zone, Governor Greg Abbott warned on Friday he may have to impose new clampdowns if the state cannot stem its record-setting caseloads and hospitalizations through masks and social distancing.
“If we don't adopt this best practice it could lead to a shutdown of business,” the Republican governor told local KLBK-TV in Lubbock, adding it was the last thing he wanted.
California announced on Friday the state will release up to 8,000 inmates early from prisons to slow the spread of COVID-19 inside the facilities. At San Quentin State Prison, outside San Francisco, half of the facility's roughly 3,300 prisoners have tested positive for the virus.
The Walt Disney Co. said the theme parks in Orlando would open on Saturday to a limited number of guests who along with employees would be required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks. The park also canceled parades, firework displays and events that typically draw crowds.
Disney's chief medical officer said earlier this week she believed the rules would allow guests to visit the park safely.
Roughly 19,000 people, including some theme park workers, have signed a petition asking Disney to delay the reopening. The union representing 750 Walt Disney World performers has filed a grievance against the company, claiming retaliation against members over a union demand that they be tested for COVID-19.
Other theme parks opened in Orlando in June, including Comcast Corp's Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc's SeaWorld.
Florida remains one of the worst hotspots for the virus in the nation and is among a handful of states where deaths are rising, based on a Reuters analysis of fatalities in the last two weeks, compared with the prior two weeks.
On Thursday, the state reported a record 120 deaths and added another 92 on Friday. It recorded 11,433 new coronavirus cases on Friday, just short of the state's record, and nearly 7,000 hospitalizations.