TAMPA — Over the course of 24 hours, three Hillsborough County residents died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Those deaths were among 15 reported by the Florida Department of Health on Sunday, bringing the statewide death toll for the novel coronavirus to 1,403. Another 90 were hospitalized across the state.
Hillsborough was the only county among the seven that make up the Tampa Bay area to lose any residents to the virus overnight. According to the health department’s Sunday update, Hillsborough County has now seen 29 deaths due to the virus - roughly 2 percent of those infected within county limits.
Manatee County still leads the region with 60 coronavirus-related deaths, followed by Pinellas with 42, Polk with 26, Citrus with 11, Pasco with eight and Hernando with six.
And on the eve of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ soft “reopening” of Florida’s economy, the health department identified 615 new cases, increasing to total number of cases being tracked by the state to 36,078 – though it’s certain many more remain untested and unaccounted for.
Hillsborough County is among the communities pushing to increase the number of residents tested for the virus by removing restrictions that only allowed those considered “at risk” of infection to be tested. The result has been a sustained surge in the number of reported cases in the county. By Sunday afternoon, Hillsborough’s health officials were tracking 1,281 coronavirus cases – 41 of which had been identified in the past 24 hours.
About 16 percent of those infected - or 196 positive coronavirus patients - have been hospitalized for their symptoms.
The remaining local counties are still reporting fewer positive cases. Pinellas County reported 766 coronavirus cases on Sunday, while Manatee is tracking 619 cases, Polk has 523 cases, Pasco has 278 cases, Citrus has 99 cases and Hernando has 94 cases.
Hillsborough ranks near the top of the list of counties with the most cases. The three counties with the highest numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases won’t be embarking on “Phase One” of DeSantis’ plan to jump start the state’s long-stalled economy.
The top “hot spot” for the virus is still Miami-Dade, which reported 12,775 confirmed cases and 369 deaths on Sunday. Also exempt from the governor’s order is Broward county, which has 5,312 confirmed cases and 207 deaths, and Palm Beach County, with 3,080 cases and 196 deaths.
All of Florida’s 67 counties have reported positive cases of coronavirus. Along with Hillsborough, Orange, Lee and Duval counties have also crossed the 1,000-case threshold, according to the health department.
How fast is the number of Florida COVID-19 cases growing?
Morning updates typically show low numbers for the current day.
What are the latest numbers on coronavirus in Tampa Bay?
Florida coronavirus cases by age group
Doctors say older people are at a greater risk to developing severe symptoms from COVID-19, which makes Florida especially vulnerable.