COVID-19 caseload growth slows, but Florida surpasses 650,000

Before stepping foot in a classroom, Florida State University students living on campus have to take their first exam of the semester: a COVID-19 test.
Before stepping foot in a classroom, Florida State University students living on campus have to take their first exam of the semester: a COVID-19 test. (Capitol News Service)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The average daily increase of COVID-19 patients in Florida and area counties continues to decline from peaks seen in mid-summer, with the Department of Health reporting 1,823 new cases on Tuesday -- the lowest daily number since June 15. Duval County had 68 new cases added to FDOH data released Tuesday -- about 10% of the daily number of cases reported for a few days in early and mid-July.

Health officials aren’t celebrating yet as they are waiting to see if the Labor Day weekend and the return of students to schools and colleges might produce an uptick in the number of coronavirus cases as it did following the Fourth of July holiday.

To date, the state has recorded more than 650,092 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic first showed up in Flordia on March 1. There were 44 deaths reported Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 12,067 and bringing the average number of deaths over the past week below 100 — the lowest average since July 16.

There were three additional deaths reported in Northeast Florida counties Tuesday: a 93-year-old woman in St. Johns County, an 81-year-old woman in Nassau County and a 73-year-old man in Flagler County.

Daily cases reported in Florida and Duval County since March

State officials said there were more than 3,000 people in hospitals with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19, while more than 40,000 have been hospitalized in Florida so far.

The positivity rate of 15,196 coronavirus tests returned Monday was 4.96% -- under the 5% number that health experts consider the threshold to measure community spread for the third straight day. The rate as been under 7% for the last two weeks.

On Tuesday, Florida State University reported that 839 students and 14 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last month. The Seminoles open their football season Saturday against Georgia Tech with limited capacity at Doak Campbell Stadium.

On Monday, Miami Beach’s iconic beaches were open for the first holiday since the start of the pandemic, although a 10 p.m. curfew to keep revelers from gathering into the night was enforced.

“We have seen an increase in visitors,” Miami Beach police officer Ernesto Rodriguez told WSVN-TV. “We have additional officers all along our roadways, on our sand, and also on the waterways.”

Footage from the station showed some beachgoers wearing masks, while others kept them handy but not necessarily over their mouths and noses.

Health officials have urged against congregating in huge crowds. Many cities, including Jacksonville, require face masks to be worn in public places, while other areas have suggested that people wear masks and keep their distance from another to keep the virus from spreading.

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