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Florida reports nearly 900 new coronavirus cases; deaths surpass 600

As of Wednesday afternoon, the state said there were 22,519 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 627 total deaths.
Opa-locka Public Works employee Fred Cadet loads bags of fruits and vegetables in a person's car at a drive-thru food distribution site at Sherbondy Park on Tuesday in Opa-locka. Hundreds of people lined up for the fresh vegetables and fruit.
Opa-locka Public Works employee Fred Cadet loads bags of fruits and vegetables in a person's car at a drive-thru food distribution site at Sherbondy Park on Tuesday in Opa-locka. Hundreds of people lined up for the fresh vegetables and fruit. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]
Published Apr. 15, 2020
Updated Apr. 15, 2020

Florida reported nearly 900 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday evening as state officials grapple with the question of how long to keep safer at home and other protective measures in place.

The state said Wednesday that more than 600 people have died after contracting the easily spread coronavirus, including one new death in Citrus County. As of Wednesday afternoon, the state said there were 22,519 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 627 total deaths.

The state’s case tracking includes residents and visitors diagnosed in Florida as well as a small number of Floridians who were tested and isolated elsewhere. Florida’s online dashboard only reports the deaths of residents, but the state includes non-resident deaths in another format.

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

Morning updates typically show low numbers for the current day.

In Tampa Bay, the state is now reporting 870 known cases in Hillsborough County and 19 coronavirus-related deaths.

In Pinellas, the state is reporting 513 cases and 15 deaths. It said there are now 186 cases and three deaths in Pasco County and 73 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.

Polk County is now reported to have 287 cases and 10 deaths, while Manatee County has 277 known cases and 19 deaths.

The state added the death of an 87-year-old Citrus man to its tally Wednesday, bringing the total deaths in that county to eight. Citrus County is reported to have 74 confirmed cases of the coronavirus; one case appears to have been reclassified compared to Tuesday’s update.

On Wednesday, the medical examiner’s office that oversees Santa Rosa County confirmed that two state inmates have died as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that can lead to severe respiratory infections.

Jeffrey Sand, 69, and William Wilson, 84, were both housed at Blackwater River Correctional Facility. They appear to be the first two coronavirus-related deaths among the state’s roughly 94,000 inmates. Sand died April 9 and Wilson died three days later.

Florida Department of Corrections officials kept the inmate fatalities secret for nearly a week, despite numerous questions from the News Service of Florida.

Related: Two Florida inmates die from COVID-19, first casualties in state prison

The number of positive cases of the coronavirus has grown by more than 43 percent compared to only a week ago. In the greater Tampa Bay region, the growth in that time frame has been nearly 39 percent, while in the South Florida counties of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, the growth has been more than 48 percent.

There is evidence that the overall growth rate in cases in Florida is slowing, a hopeful bit of news as Floridians work to adjust to this new reality of wearing masks and maintaining distance from their friends and neighbors.

Statewide, 214,210 people have been tested for the coronavirus, with more than 10 percent testing positive.

So far, 3,402 people have been hospitalized at some point due to the coronavirus, including more than 150 non-Florida residents, the state data shows.

The number of residents or staff of long-term care facilities diagnosed with the coronavirus jumped by more than 150 from Tuesday to Wednesday. That includes 15 new reported cases in Pinellas County, bringing the number of confirmed long-term care cases in that county to 60, including one death.

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 and the News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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