The number of Floridians dying from the novel coronavirus continues to escalate, with 39 new deaths reported Saturday.
The toll includes five deaths in the greater Tampa Bay area since Friday evening. Four more people died in Hillsborough County and one person died in Pinellas County.
The Florida Department of Health said it had 18,986 confirmed cases, a 1,018-case increase from Friday evening. The number of deaths throughout Florida has hit 458.
How fast is the number of Florida COVID-19 cases growing?
Morning updates typically show low numbers for the current day.
In Hillsborough, there are 698 cases with 16 deaths. In Pinellas, there are 446 cases and 13 deaths. In Pasco, there are 150 cases and two deaths. Hernando has 69 cases and two deaths. Nearby, Manatee has 221 cases and 13 deaths. Polk has 244 cases and eight deaths.
Even these higher numbers are likely not the entirety of the coronavirus cases in the Sunshine State. Some people who are infected may not be getting tested, including some who may be asymptomatic.
The state has conducted a total of 175,834 tests, with 18,986, or almost 11 percent of those resulting in positive cases.
On Saturday, the organizers of the Winter Party Festival — which brought thousands of gay men to South Beach for a series of close-quarters dance parties — told the Miami Herald that 38 attendees had become sick since partying at the festival and some of them had tested positive. Of those, many then left Miami and traveled back home to cities like Seattle and Boston.
The Miami Herald reported on March 20 that at least nine positive cases had been reported to the organizers at the LGBTQ Task Force, which hosts the annual Winter Party that serves both as a celebration of gay pride and fundraiser. The parties, held in Miami Beach and Miami, took place from March 4-10. And there was very little social distancing; videos of the events show shirtless men gyrating and grinding on each other in poorly ventilated enclosures.
The New York Times first reported on the new cases Saturday.
The first reported coronavirus death in Miami-Dade County, that of 40-year-old Israel Carrera, came on March 27. Carrera had attended Winter Party, his husband told the Herald. The second death linked to Winter Party, that of volunteer Ron Rich, was announced on March 31.
At the time of the festival, state health officials had not reported a single positive COVID-19 case in Miami-Dade County and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not yet recommended canceling large gatherings.
Apart from this concentration of cases in South Florida, Hillsborough ranks fifth in cases among the state’s 67 counties, while Tampa ranks eighth in cities with cases with 450. St. Petersburg has 122 cases. Clearwater has 95. Largo has 54. Riverview has 53. And Spring Hill, in Hernando County, has 41.
The case numbers are expected to continue rising in the near future as testing continues to expand and as the virus’ spread continues in communities.
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Yet experts have said that social distancing measures are likely helping slow the spread of the virus and will keep numbers from shooting even higher in the near future.
What are the latest numbers on coronavirus in Tampa Bay?
In Florida, the coronavirus affects men and women almost equally in terms of the number of confirmed positives.
As of Saturday evening, 9,328 men (or 51 percent) tested positive and 8,950 women did the same, or 48 percent, according to the Florida Department of Health. The 1 percent discrepancy, or 167 people, is reported as unknown.
Of the total confirmed cases statewide, 18,445 are Florida residents and 541 are non-residents who were diagnosed or isolated in the state. There have been 2,528 hospitalizations in the state.
Information from the Miami Herald was used in this report.
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.
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