Coronavirus Florida: Pasco woman, 71, dies; State total jumps by 500 cases in one day

The woman had traveled to Virginia and had contact with a confirmed case, the state reported.
BayCare health care workers and staff guide vehicles at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James Stadium site on Wednesday in Tampa.  Residents that wish to be tested had to be approved and registered online before arriving at the site.
BayCare health care workers and staff guide vehicles at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James Stadium site on Wednesday in Tampa. Residents that wish to be tested had to be approved and registered online before arriving at the site. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published March 25, 2020|Updated March 25, 2020

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The death of a 71-year-old woman in Pasco County has brought the Tampa Bay coronavirus-related death toll to two, according to the state Department of Health.

And Wednesday evening, the state said it is now tracking 1,977 known cases — a major jump of 510 cases from the evening prior.

Both the Pasco death, and the death of a 67-year-old man in Pinellas County, remain under review in the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office, according to director of investigations Bill Pellan. Though the state has deemed the deaths related to coronavirus, the medical examiner investigates as well.

In the Pasco case especially, Pellan said, COVID-19 — the disease caused by complications from the virus, with dire effects on the lungs and other organs — is very likely the culprit.

The Pasco woman had traveled to Virginia, the state reported. She also had contact with at least one other confirmed case.

Just north, in Citrus County, the death of an 80-year-old man — who, the state noted, had traveled to Delaware and had contact with another confirmed case — brought the state death toll to 23.

Wednesday evening, Pinellas reported 54 confirmed cases and Pasco 18, with Hillsborough leading the region with 123. Tampa alone accounted for 85 cases, the third-most in the state.

The steep rise in cases comes as testing expands, and as Tampa Bay officials war over local stay-at-home measures in a state that has not yet locked down uniformly. (Wednesday morning, Pinellas County ordered residents to stay at home, becoming the first county here to do so.)

Elsewhere in the region, Hernando County has eight cases, and Manatee County to the south has 26 cases and one death, a 70-year-old man.

Of the total cases, 1,867 are Florida residents and 110 are non-residents who were tested or isolated here, according to the state.

Of Florida residents, 343 have been hospitalized.

While Florida grows its testing capacity every day, the state was — like many across the United States — slow to get started. Now Floridians are flocking to drive-through swab sites and labs are trying to keep up, with a lag time in processing. That means today’s numbers remain undercounts of the disease’s actual spread, especially as many carriers without symptoms have gone unchecked.

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More than 23,000 tests have been processed in the state, though that doesn’t necessarily mean 23,000 people have been tested. In addition, 1,581 tests are pending.

South Florida has struggled most so far with the spread, shuttering non-essential businesses while it attempts to stem infections. Miami-Dade County now reports 491 cases, Broward 412 and Palm Beach 141.

Hillsborough was a close fourth in caseload.

Forty known cases are in long-term care facilities, a worrisome figure given reports of devastation in these types of places in cities like Seattle. Experts have said the disease can hit elderly people, as well as those with underlying health conditions, especially hard. But no age has proven immune. Southeast Florida made headlines Tuesday as a baby boy and 2-year-old girl tested positive. Hillsborough data show cases in a 3-year-old boy and 6-year-old child, along with many people in their 20s and 30s.

So far, more men than women have suffered in Florida, with 56 percent of cases found in men.

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