JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Florida officials press forward with reopening plans, the Department of Health reported Thursday that 48,676 people have tested positive for coronavirus. That’s an increase of 1,204 from Wednesday, the largest uptick in COVID-19 cases in nearly a month.
A 90-year-old woman in Duval County and 67-year-old woman in Putnam County were listed among the 48 latest deaths recorded by the health department. That brings the statewide death toll to 2,144.
Since March, 8,946 patients have been hospitalized as a result of the illness, according to the state. The number of current hospitalizations is likely far fewer, but that total remains unknown as the health department does not provide data on the number of recoveries.
Six percent of the more than 815,000 tests administered by the state have come back positive, the latest data shows. That’s down significantly from the 10-percent positive rate reported a month ago.
It’s worth noting here that testing has ramped up significantly in recent weeks. More than 131,000 people were tested Tuesday and Wednesday, compared to nearly 34,000 people tested over a two-day span last month.
The Duval County woman’s death marks the 37th recorded in Jacksonville. Her case, which was first counted April 17, has been classified as travel-related. It’s unknown if she had any contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
Still unclear is the origin of infection for the Putnam County patient, whose death is the fourth in the county linked to the disease. Health officials determined that her illness, which was initially detected April 24, is not related to travel or contact with a known case.
View the chart below for a full breakdown of all 11 Northeast Florida counties:
The latest figures come as officials defend the integrity of the state’s data.
During a Wednesday appearance in Orlando, Gov. Ron DeSantis fired back at allegations made by a health department staffer, who told colleagues and the media she was removed from her role managing the state’s COVID-19 data dashboard because of a supposed dispute with her superiors over the data’s transparency.
A spokesperson for the governor has denied those claims, saying that the employee was reassigned due to what she characterized as insubordination. DeSantis raised questions about the employee’s credibility, citing misdemeanor stalking charges she faces stemming from a past relationship that turned sour.
The employee, Rebekah Jones, has clammed up in the wake of a Florida Today report detailing her claims.
Wednesday’s fireworks came two days after officials took the next step in their plans to reopen Florida as part of an effort to help the state’s industries recover from the financial fallout of the pandemic. On Monday, the state reopened gyms and allowed restaurants and retail stores to begin serving customers at 50-percent capacity.