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Florida reports record increase in coronavirus deaths, including nine in Tampa Bay region

The rise in reported cases of the coronavirus appears to be slowing in the Sunshine State.
Surfside, Fla. Police Sgt. Jay Matelis, right, hands out a pair of cloth protective masks to a resident as she drives through, Monday, April 13, 2020, in Surfside. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez signed an Executive Order April 9, "requiring the use of facial coverings by people working in or visiting grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, construction sites, public transit vehicles, vehicles for hire, and locations where social distancing measures are not possible."
Surfside, Fla. Police Sgt. Jay Matelis, right, hands out a pair of cloth protective masks to a resident as she drives through, Monday, April 13, 2020, in Surfside. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez signed an Executive Order April 9, "requiring the use of facial coverings by people working in or visiting grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, construction sites, public transit vehicles, vehicles for hire, and locations where social distancing measures are not possible." [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]
Published Apr. 14, 2020
Updated Apr. 14, 2020

Florida reported its smallest daily increase in reported cases of the novel coronavirus in more than two weeks, with the state on Tuesday evening reporting 609 new confirmed cases compared to a day earlier.

But the state’s coronavirus-related death toll continued upward, with the state reporting a record 72 new deaths Tuesday. That includes nine new reported deaths in the greater Tampa Bay region.

As of Tuesday evening, the state had reported 21,628 cases and 585 deaths related to the easily transmittable novel coronavirus, including 14 deaths of non-residents. Florida only recently began including non-resident deaths in its data.

While it’s unclear why Tuesday saw such a deceleration in newly reported cases, the overall growth rate in cases does appear to be slowing in the Sunshine State — some potentially hopeful news amid social distancing and “safer at home” guidelines that have disrupted many Floridians’ ways of life.

In Tampa Bay, the state is reporting 819 known cases and 19 deaths in Hillsborough County, 494 cases and 15 deaths in Pinellas County, 177 cases and three deaths in Pasco County and 71 cases and three deaths in Hernando County.

The numbers are likely an undercount, given limited testing and testing delays and the likelihood that some people who may have the coronavirus will never be tested.

In the greater Tampa Bay region, Polk County is now reported to have 279 cases and 10 deaths, while Manatee County has 261 known cases and 19 deaths and Citrus County has 75 cases and seven deaths, according to state data.

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

Morning updates typically show low numbers for the current day.

The greater Tampa Bay region makes up about 20 percent of the state’s population and about 10 percent of the total known cases of the coronavirus in the state. The South Florida counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, which have seen an explosion of cases, make up nearly 59 percent of the state’s cases even though those three counties make up less than 30 percent of the state’s population.

Among the new Tampa Bay region deaths reported since Monday evening: a 35-year-old Hillsborough woman; a 73-year-old Hillsborough man; 78-, 84- and two 73-year-old Manatee men; an 80-year-old Pinellas man and a 90-year-old Polk man. A 63-year-old man who is a non-Florida resident added to the death toll in Hernando County.

What are the latest numbers on coronavirus in Tampa Bay?

The total number of positive cases continues to climb, but the number of cases is now doubling every 12.3 days, compared with every 5.3 days only a week earlier.

That may be attributed to social distancing measures that Floridians have been observing; such measures are meant to flatten the curve of growth so the number of cases — and hospitalizations — doesn’t rise too quickly and overwhelm health care systems.

But the growth rate could also be affected by things such as a backlog of testing for the coronavirus that could keep the number of positive cases each day from growing higher.

As of Tuesday evening, 206,537 people have been tested for the coronavirus, Florida officials said, an increase of less than 3.5 percent from the previous day. The positive test rate is still hovering at more than 10 percent.

Related: The latest data: how coronavirus in Florida is trending right now

Although Florida is the third-largest state in the country, some smaller states have higher numbers of confirmed cases. For instance, Michigan has reported more than 27,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 1,760 deaths, while Pennsylvania has more than 25,000 reported cases and more than 580 deaths.

On Monday, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said residents should get used to current precautions such as wearing face masks and social distancing until a vaccine is found for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that can lead to severe respiratory infections. A vaccine is not likely until sometime next year.

Doing so could help prevent a second wave of outbreaks, but could also have serious implications on the state’s economy — something Gov. Ron DeSantis clearly has as a front-of-mind concern amid this pandemic.

Related: Floridians should keep social distancing until a vaccine exists, even if it's next year, surgeon general says

The state has reported 1,179 cases among residents and staff of long-term care facilities. On Monday, DeSantis announced he was enlisting the Florida National Guard to help conduct testing at elder-care facilities. The governor said a surge of testing was needed to identify any potential carriers of the virus, including asymptomatic carriers, who could spread the infection among the at-risk populations of these places.

Related: DeSantis deploys National Guard as Florida's elder care centers face 'nightmare'

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.

Times reporter Langston Taylor contributed to this report.

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