Spike in reported COVID-19 deaths again shows lag in Florida data

About 50 of 213 newly reported deaths occurred more than a month ago

A lab technician begins semi-automated testing for COVID-19 at Northwell Health Labs on March 11 in Lake Success, New York. (Photo by Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Analyzing data released Thursday by the Florida Department of Health again highlights a significant lag in the state’s reporting of COVID-19 related deaths.

The state’s total of resident and non-resident deaths related to coronavirus increased by 213 in Thursday’s data, bringing Florida’s total to 12,482 since the pandemic began.

RELATED: 22-year-old’s death illustrates reporting lag for Florida COVID-19 fatalities

But a chart showing when those deaths occurred indicates 14 were from Aug. 21, and 10 were from Aug. 12. From Aug. 22 to Sept. 2, between two and eight newly reported deaths were added each day, the data show. But roughly 50 of the newly added deaths in the state data were not registered on the chart, which only includes the last 30 days, indicating those deaths occurred more than one month ago.

Of the newly reported deaths, 26 were added in Duval County -- a single-day high for additional deaths in Jacksonville -- but it’s unclear in the data just when those deaths occurred. Most of the newly reported Duval County deaths were first identified as COVID-19 patients by the state in July, and one was first reported in April.

Columbia County added four deaths in Thursday’s data, Alachua County added three and St. Johns County added one.

Infectious disease experts have cautioned that the death rate typically lags behind the infection rate because someone who dies of COVID-19 complications typically has been sick about 7-10 days.

The latest update brings the average daily reported fatalities over the past week up to 97 — about even with much more populous California and behind Texas.

Overall, the state added 2,583 confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing Florida’s total to 654,731 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.

Daily cases reported in Florida and Duval County since March

The number of people being treated in Florida hospitals for the disease continued a seven-week downward trend, following peaks of more than 9,500 in late July. There were 2,922 patients in the late morning Thursday, according to a hospital census posted online by the state, down from 3,075 the previous morning.

On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis is scheduled to travel to Fort Myers, where he will host a roundtable discussion involving restaurants.

Florida had 36,541 new claims for unemployment benefits last week, a 25% drop from the previous week, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Florida officials told the federal labor officials that the drop was due to fewer layoffs in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, trade and service industries.