Heading into Thanksgiving weekend, Florida is home to rising coronavirus cases (in all age groups), hospitalizations and deaths.
One thing to remember: around holidays, data on the virus can get “weird,” as the COVID Tracking Project puts it. That means numbers of cases or deaths may quickly dip, even if that doesn’t reflect changes in real life.
Florida’s daily updates reflect data confirmed the day before. So, especially when it comes to deaths, numbers on Sundays and Mondays are much lower than other days of the week. And that holds for the days immediately after holidays: reported deaths plummeted on the Tuesdays after Memorial Day and Labor Day.
In addition to whatever reporting oddities may arise, the numbers may look different soon for another reason: experts warn that millions of Americans visiting family for the holiday would supercharge the viral surge. That would seed even more outbreaks across the country and kill many who would not have died otherwise.
With that in mind, it’s worth taking stock of the general trends in the state before the holiday hit.
Deaths are rising again
From mid-October through early November, the number of new people reported dead from COVID-19 dropped rapidly. Florida went from announcing about 100 deaths a day to less than half that. (This uses seven-day averages to account for the weekly reporting pattern.) At its lowest point, there were 42 deaths per day announced around the first week of November.
But since then, the numbers are coming right back up. As of this week, 75 Floridians are announced dead per day, the highest number in a month. It’s at the same level now as it was in mid-July, just before the summer peak.
Adjusted per population, Florida’s increase in deaths is less than in the U.S. overall. States in the Great Plains and Midwest are seeing deaths add up the fastest right now.
Cases continue to rise fast — in all age groups.
As of this week, Florida is counting about 8,000 new cases per day. That number has been rising, essentially without fail, since the beginning of October.
Over the course of the pandemic, case spikes in young adults have foreshadowed those in seniors. Now, cases are rising steeply, no matter the age.
At its summer peak, there were nearly 12,000 cases per day, meaning Florida’s case level is about two-thirds of the highest it has ever been. However, the state is testing more people now than it was in July, so even if the numbers reach or surpass that earlier peak, that doesn’t mean the virus is as widespread in real life this time around.
Cases have also risen in long-term care facilities like nursing homes. The number of current reported positive residents in such facilities hit a low of less than 750 in late October, but nearly doubled in three weeks. Over the past week, it has been flat, at about 1,400 current cases. More than 7,000 of Florida’s 18,000 COVID-19 deaths have been nursing home residents.
Hospitalizations are rising, too
One of the best indicators for whether the pandemic is getting better or worse is the number of people currently hospitalized for COVID-19. That number peaked in late July, right in between the peak in cases and in reported deaths.
Statewide, it has grown since mid-October, from about 2,000 then to more than 3,500 now. The level has rebounded to where it was at the end of August. This is still much lower than the peak, when more than 9,000 patients were hospitalized at once in July.
The problem is worst in two rural, neighboring counties: DeSoto and Highlands. This week, there were about 80 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in those counties, more than at any point since the state began publishing data in July.
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