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Over 200 COVID-19 deaths added in Florida for first time since mid-August

12 more deaths reported Wednesday in 4 Northeast Florida counties

A medical worker places a swab in a vial while testing the homeless for COVID-19 through the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, during the new coronavirus pandemic, Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Miami. The Homeless Trust is targeting the senior population for testing, and is offering housing to those who test positive. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
A medical worker places a swab in a vial while testing the homeless for COVID-19 through the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, during the new coronavirus pandemic, Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Miami. The Homeless Trust is targeting the senior population for testing, and is offering housing to those who test positive. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Florida reported an additional 202 deaths related to coronavirus in data released Wednesday by the state health department. It was the first time since Aug. 18 that the state added more than 200 deaths.

Most of those deaths did not occur in the last 24 hours. The state often lags far behind in death reporting, with deaths added to the state database sometimes weeks after they occurred. A significant portion of the deaths added to the state report Wednesday were from mid-August.

Death reports usually spike on Tuesdays, but it’s possible that typical trend was pushed to Wednesday by the holiday weekend.

Overall, the state added 2,056 confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing Florida’s total to 652,148 cases since the pandemic began. That lower number is on trend with recent daily increases, which are much lower than peaks seen in mid-summer.

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.

The state has reported a total of 12,269 deaths related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Duval County added 84 new cases Wednesday and four deaths, bringing Jacksonville’s totals to 27,886 cases and 276 deaths. Duval County’s percent positivity for new cases remained below 5% at 4.95%.

Nassau County also added four more coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday, and Flagler and Clay counties added two more each.

Of the 12 additional deaths reported in Northeast Florida counties, the youngest was a 56-year-old Flagler County man and the oldest was an 88-year-old Nassau County man.

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 coronavirus tests returned Tuesday was 5.94% -- just over the 5% number that health experts consider the threshold to measure community spread. 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.