Florida coronavirus cases jump nearly 1,700, biggest one-day increase ever

As testing capacity increases and reopening moves forward, cases spike, but hospitalizations remain gradual

A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation on Feb. 28. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Data released Thursday morning by the state health department showed the largest daily increase to date in Florida’s coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, with 1,698 confirmed cases reported in the last 24 hours.

Florida now has 69,069 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The surge of cases over the last nine days coincides both with the reopening of Florida’s economy following the statewide Safer at Home lockdown and with an increase in the state’s testing capacity.

And the spike was not unexpected by Florida officials.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said as he announced plans to reopen the state that he knew with increased testing, the total number of cases “found” would go up but that he was focused on the percent of positive cases, which has remained around 5% during the last nine days, despite the overall increase in cases.

The number of hospitalizations has also increased but at a steady pace that appears to be keeping the state’s facilities from being overrun by patients, a concern when the pandemic first arrived in Florida before the governor ordered the precautionary quarantine.

The state now reports 11,571 patients have been hospitalized with coronavirus since the pandemic began. The vast majority of those patients (8,212) are 55 years old or older, according to the state’s data. Looking over the last nine days, the state has averaged 128 additional hospitalizations a day.

As of Thursday’s report from the health department, Florida had administered 1.3 million tests for COVID-19 with a 5.2% positive rate. The state data indicate that a person can be counted more than once in the overall testing number, because patients often need multiple tests over days or weeks before they are cleared to return to normal activities. The positive cases the state lists, however, are only for the first time the patient tests positive.

The state has now reported 2,848 deaths, including two additional deaths in Duval County and one more death in Alachua County.

The latest deaths in Duval County were a 72-year-old woman and a 74-year-old woman. The Alachua County patient who died was a 76-year-old man.

Complete coronavirus data for Northeast Florida counties

Tracking the last nine days of coronavirus case jumps (and hospitalization increases) in Florida: