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More Tampa Bay deaths as Florida’s coronavirus death toll passes 500

State officials quietly began offering data on the deaths of non-residents from COVID-19. There are now 21,019 confirmed cases and rising.
Tam Rubin, co-owner of Fireman Derek's Bake Shop, wears a protective mask and gloves as she rings up a customer's order on Thursday in Miami. The bake shop is open for take out only and and has not yet had to reduce staff due to the pandemic.
Tam Rubin, co-owner of Fireman Derek's Bake Shop, wears a protective mask and gloves as she rings up a customer's order on Thursday in Miami. The bake shop is open for take out only and and has not yet had to reduce staff due to the pandemic. [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]
Published Apr. 13, 2020|Updated Apr. 13, 2020

Florida on Monday reported another increase of new coronavirus cases after the holiday weekend as the total of confirmed diagnoses passed the somber benchmark of 20,000 and continued to rise.

The state reported new deaths in Citrus, Polk and Manatee counties. Those fatalities are among more than 500 coronavirus-related deaths that have now been reported in the Sunshine State, including the non-residents who died here.

The number of positive cases the state is reporting jumped by more than 1,100 on Monday compared to a day earlier. Officials now say there are 21,019 confirmed cases.

That means roughly 1 in 1,000 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, the quickly spreading disease caused by the coronavirus that can lead to severe respiratory infections.

That includes 813 reported cases in Hillsborough County; 479 in Pinellas County; 169 in Pasco County; and 71 cases in Hernando County.

Related: Florida’s count of coronavirus deaths is missing some cases

Nearby, Polk County is now reporting 270 cases of the coronavirus; Manatee County has 252 cases; and Citrus County is reporting 72.

The number of people infected by the coronavirus — and who have died of COVID-19 or complications from the virus — is likely higher than the official counts because of limited testing.

Data from the Florida Department of Health shows 513 coronavirus-related deaths as of Monday evening, including 14 deaths of non-residents such as snowbirds or visitors who died in the Sunshine State.

The state did not begin to include data on the deaths of non-residents until Saturday.

It is still not including those 14 deaths in its official death totals on its website.

As recently as Saturday evening, health department officials told the Tampa Bay Times they were reporting deaths based on residency to avoid double counting and because it would enable them to calculate disease rates moving forward.

But public health experts said the state should be tallying the total number of fatalities within Florida and then breaking the figure down into residents and non-residents. The number of people who die within a certain jurisdiction helps capture how the epidemic is unfolding in a given place and can help people understand the importance of interventions like stay-at-home orders.

Related: Florida's count of coronavirus deaths is missing some cases

How fast is the number of Florida COVID-19 cases growing?

Morning updates typically show low numbers for the current day.

The state said Monday evening that Hillsborough County had seen 17 coronavirus-related deaths, including one of a non-Florida resident. There is also a non-Florida resident death reported among Pinellas County’s 14 reported deaths.

There are three reported deaths in Pasco County and two in Hernando from COVID-19.

Citrus County added a seventh death, that of a 75-year-old man. Manatee reported two new deaths: 52- and 82-year-old men. A 91-year-old Polk man became his county’s ninth reported death on Monday.

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Related: Pinellas commission will consider opening parts of beaches for exercise

The state said 199,767 people have been tested for the coronavirus, and more than 10.5 percent of them have tested positive.

Testing is still limited, and some people who may have the coronavirus — including some who may be asymptomatic — may never be tested, meaning the official count of cases is likely an undercount of the actual number of people infected in the Sunshine State.

There have also been reports of long waits for test results in some instances.

So far, fewer than 10 out of every 1,000 Floridians have been tested.

The number of positive cases is expected to continue to rise in the near future as more are tested and as the virus continues its sweep through the state.

Times staff writer Rebecca Woolington contributed to 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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