Florida coronavirus deaths pass 100 as cases rise by more than a thousand

At least 990 Floridians have been admitted to the hospital, the state said in its Wednesday night update.
Children's chalk messages are seen on the sidewalk along Ridge Road near the intersection of Lake St. George Drive Tuesday in Palm Harbor.
Children's chalk messages are seen on the sidewalk along Ridge Road near the intersection of Lake St. George Drive Tuesday in Palm Harbor. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published April 1, 2020|Updated April 2, 2020

More than 100 Floridians have died as known coronavirus cases in the state have shot up to 7,773, rising by more than a thousand in a single day.

Nearly 1,000 Floridians have been hospitalized with COVID-19, the disease caused by complications from the virus, according to Wednesday night data from the state Department of Health.

Even before the Wednesday night surge, Florida had already accumulated the fifth-largest caseload in the United States, according to national statistics compiled by the New York Times. After New York’s outsized outbreak, with more than 83,900 cases, came New Jersey (22,255), California (9,301), Michigan (7,630) and Florida, where the vast majority of 67 counties have confirmed cases.

Of those states, Florida has been slowest to restrict business and movement. Under mounting pressure, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday he would take a harder tack, rolling out a statewide lockdown starting Friday morning.

Many of the deaths announced Wednesday were concentrated in the South Florida hotspot, where Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties share at least 4,380 cases.

One death was in the Tampa Bay region, a 77-year-old man who lived in Manatee County. Further details were not available. The state has not been releasing cities of residence for the dead.

Hillsborough has reached 362 known cases, an increase of 57 from Tuesday night. Tampa alone counted for 245 of those. Sixty county residents have been hospitalized.

Pinellas is at 233, up a sharp 66 cases in a day, as St. Petersburg reached 50 cases. The county has reported 51 hospitalizations.

Other counties saw a more moderate rise. Manatee has 70 cases, Pasco 51, Hernando 28 and Citrus 23.

More than 69,265 tests have been conducted in the state, keeping pace with the recent uptick that now sees the state adding more than 7,000 per day. About 11 percent of those have come back positive.

That said, tests and confirmed cases so far have generally centered on more severe cases, owing to national guidance that prioritizes vulnerable people already showing symptoms. Many people with milder cases, or without symptoms, have not been able to see if they are carriers of the easily transmitted virus.

Elsewhere, Orange County recorded 458 cases and four deaths; and Duval 239 and four deaths. Hillsborough has the state’s fifth-largest caseload.

Data show that, though the disease strikes fairly evenly among people in their mid 20s and well into their 70s, the toll is worst for the elderly.

Most of the people hospitalized have been in their 60s or older, and 84 percent of the deceased are those over 65 years old.

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Still, experts warn that no age is safe. Some counties, including Hillsborough, have recorded cases in children and even babies. And just a few days ago, a 28-year-old Sarasota man became Florida’s youngest victim of COVID-19.

The state has not yet provided data on recovery rates. And details about underlying health conditions, while a factor in case severity, have not been released en masse.

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