Florida’s report of coronavirus cases, deaths stay below last month’s peaks

11 COVID-19 death's in Northeast Florida among 247 the state reports Tuesday

Vehicles wait in line at a COVID-19 testing site at the Miami Beach Convention Center (File photo)
Vehicles wait in line at a COVID-19 testing site at the Miami Beach Convention Center (File photo) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tuesday’s report from the Florida Department of Health shows increases in the number of cases and deaths over the previous day, but the totals remain well below the peaks seen last month that led the national media to label Florida as the nation’s coronavirus hotspot.

That said, new hospitalizations (586) in Florida were the highest one-day increase since the pandemic began and 247 additional deaths and 5,446 new cases identified in Tuesday’s report are about five times higher than the state’s daily averages in early June when stay-at-home orders were eased.

Eleven of the newly reported deaths were in Northeast Florida counties, including 64- and 66-year-old women in Jacksonville, a 97-year-old woman in Clay County, and 88-year-old man in St. Johns County, 81- and 84-year-old women in Columbia County, two 84-year-olds in Alachua County, a 44- and a 69-year-old man in Flagler County and a 65-year-old woman in Putnam County. (Note that most of the deaths included in each day’s FDOH data had not actually died in the past 24 hours as deaths often take a few days to be reported.)

The DOD dashboard now lists 597,330 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Florida since March 1, 27,952 of those required hospitalization and 7,526 died.

The rate of positive COVID-19 tests -- considered a measure of active infection spreading in the community -- rose slightly in the state and most local counties on Monday but remains significantly lower than the rate through most of July.

It’s worth noting that Florida temporarily closed state-run testing sites Friday in anticipation that they could be damaged by Tropical Storm Isaias’ winds and rainfall. It’s unclear how much impact that will have on the resulting daily caseload, or how soon it will show up since test results often take several days.

“We are encouraged by some of the trends we are seeing,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale. “Today we reported one of the lowest number of positive tests we’ve recorded in a long time, and we’ve had two days in a row where the positive is 9% and we were 16% for a while.”

Epidemiologist Jonathan Kantor says a 14-day average with declining numbers will be a real indicator that Florida is flattening the curve.

″I think it’s too early to celebrate but it might be a reason to cause some happiness,” Dr. Kantor said. “We have been longing for some good news for a little while, so it’s nice to see the numbers trending in the right direction that we want to see.”

Daily COVID-19 cases reported in Florida, Jacksonville

Florida’s Department of Corrections secretary, Mark Inch, and a top deputy have also revealed they tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting a prison in Columbia County. It is not clear if that was where the infection occurred. Neither requires hospitalization, according to an agency news release, and both are self-isolating.

“I want to encourage all Floridians to continue protecting our vulnerable residents, practice proper hygiene, wear masks when in close contact with others and practice social distancing to slow the spread of this virus,” Inch said in the statement.

Last week, the corrections department reported that 1,216 inmates housed at the Columbia Correctional Institution had tested positive for the coronavirus, most of whom had no symptoms. The prison houses about 2,200 inmates.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

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