Florida adds more than 6,500 coronavirus cases in a week, with three new Tampa Bay deaths

Tampa Bay accounts for at least 18 of the 144 known deaths so far.
Healthcare workers test residents as dozens of vehicles lined up at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium on Wednesday, March 25. The state has done more than 76,700 tests.
Healthcare workers test residents as dozens of vehicles lined up at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium on Wednesday, March 25. The state has done more than 76,700 tests. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published April 2, 2020|Updated April 2, 2020

An 85-year-old man has died in Pinellas County, and an 86-year-old woman and 68-year-old woman have died in Hillsborough County as the state counts 144 known deaths related to coronavirus.

Confirmed cases have broken 9,000 statewide, according to the state’s Thursday evening update. Just one week ago, that number was 2,484.

Hospitalizations now number 1,167, with at least 65 in Hillsborough and 58 in Pinellas.

As expected, cases in the Tampa Bay region have continued to climb, owing to a mixture of factors including expanded testing and continual community spread.

Hillsborough County cases now total 404 — the state’s fifth-largest — and Pinellas 273. A week ago, those counts were 151 and 65, respectively.

Five people have died in Hillsborough related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, often marked by severe respiratory illness. Six people have died in Pinellas.

Pasco County has 66 cases, two deaths and 10 people admitted to the hospital. Hernando has 34, no deaths and eight hospitalizations. Citrus has 27 cases, two deaths and eight hospitalizations.

To the south, Manatee County has 89 cases and 21 hospitalizations. Three residents have died.

More than 80,000 tests have been conducted, with about 11 percent returning 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.

Some who believe they had the virus and recovered have not been able to confirm their experience, either. And the state has not yet released data on people who tested positive but got better.

“Health isn’t publishing those statistics," Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday. "It’s something I’ve asked about.”

Data show that the disease strikes fairly evenly among people in their mid 20s and well into their 70s. In Hillsborough, positives have come back for people as old as 93, and as young as an infant under 1.

But the elderly fare worse. Those hospitalized mostly have been in their 60s or older, and 85 percent of the deceased are those over 65 years old.

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The mounting cases come as Florida readies to enter a statewide lockdown, after pressure on DeSantis led him to change course toward a more restrictive approach.

At first, he favored a community-based approach, moving to curtail non-essential business in the South Florida hotspot. In Miami-Dade County, at least 2,886 cases have been confirmed. Broward and Palm Beach have confirmed 1,481 and 737, respectively.

Between the three counties, 64 people have died.

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