July 12 (Reuters) - Florida reported a record increase of more than 15,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day on Sunday as the growing outbreak forces state authorities to close some businesses and beaches.
If Florida were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for the most new cases a day behind the United States, Brazil and India.
Its daily increases have already surpassed the highest daily tally reported by any European country during the height of the pandemic there. Florida has also broken New York State's record of 12,847 new cases on April 10 when it was the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.
To combat the outbreak, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has ordered bars to close but has resisted calls for a statewide mandate to wear masks in public.
Popular with both American and international tourists, Florida is home to beach resorts and theme parks including Disney World, which reopened on Saturday.
It is also a political battleground state that President Donald Trump won by just 1.2 percentage points in 2016. Its economic reliance on tourism and its large elderly population have made it especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Republican National Convention, where Trump is expected to be officially nominated as the party's candidate for the Nov. 3 election, is scheduled to be held in Jacksonville, Florida in late August.
The party moved most convention activities to Jacksonville from Charlotte after a battle over coronavirus safety concerns with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat.
Trump thrives on large crowds at his campaign rallies and has not embraced masks or social distancing measures at campaign events he has held since the country began reopening from the coronavirus shutdown. (Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Daniel Wallis)