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Florida coronavirus deaths surpass 700; nine new deaths in Manatee County alone

Deaths also reported in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Polk counties.
Shoppers exit a Publix grocery store as an unidentified Publix employee gathers shopping carts in the parking lot of Publix grocery store Thursday, April 9, 2020 in Dunedin.
Shoppers exit a Publix grocery store as an unidentified Publix employee gathers shopping carts in the parking lot of Publix grocery store Thursday, April 9, 2020 in Dunedin. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Apr. 17, 2020
Updated Apr. 17, 2020

Florida’s death toll from the coronavirus jumped past 700 on Friday, including nine new deaths in Manatee County alone.

The state reported 739 deaths related to the coronavirus as of Friday evening, an increase of 58 from only a day earlier. One new Hillsborough County death was reported Friday, that of a 57-year-old man, and one was added in Polk County, of an 82-year-old woman.

Also among the newly reported deaths Friday were that of an 84-year-old woman and a 66-year-old man in Pinellas County; their demographics match the two nursing home residents who died Friday amid an outbreak of the coronavirus at the Freedom Square of Seminole retirement community.

On Friday, officials moved to shut down the Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation nursing home in that community and evacuate its remaining residents to local hospitals.

Related: Evacuation underway at Pinellas nursing home hit by outbreak; 3 dead from coronavirus

The state said that the number of confirmed cases among residents and staff of long-term care facilities now stands at 1,609. That’s an increase of 155 cases from a day earlier. The number of deaths in this population is now at 157, more than a fifth of the total coronavirus-related deaths.

Overall, the state reported 24,753 positive cases of the coronavirus as of Friday evening, an increase of more than 1,400 cases from 24 hours earlier. The number of new cases bucked a trend that in recent days had seen a slowing.

The number of new reported deaths each day has continued an upward trend.

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

Morning updates typically show low numbers for the current day.

The number of cases of the coronavirus reported by the state are likely an undercount, given limited testing, testing delays and the likelihood that some people who may have the coronavirus will never be tested.

In Tampa Bay, 924 people in Hillsborough County have confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 20 have died from it. In Pinellas, the state is reporting 565 cases and 17 deaths. There are now 192 cases and three deaths in Pasco County and 83 cases and three deaths in Hernando County.

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.

Polk County is now reported to have 316 cases and 12 deaths, while Manatee County has 326 known cases and 29 deaths. Citrus County has 82 known cases of the virus, including eight deaths.

On Friday afternoon, Manatee County announced that former county commissioner Gwendolyn Brown, who had served from 1994 to 2010 and was the county’s first black commissioner, had died after contracting the coronavirus.

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It is not clear whether her case was counted among the state’s death tally in Manatee County.

The state said Friday that Manatee County men ages 90, 91, 83 and 81 had died after contracting the coronavirus, as have Manatee County women aged 81, 49, 67, 68 and 94.

The greater Tampa Bay region makes up about 20 percent of the state’s population but roughly 10 percent of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases. In comparison, the harder-hit South Florida region (including Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties) makes up nearly 59 percent of the state’s known cases, even though those three counties make up less than 30 percent of the state’s population.

What are the latest numbers on coronavirus in Tampa Bay?

As of Friday evening, 240,604 people in the state have been tested for the coronavirus, with the positive rate still hovering above 10 percent.

More than 3,800 people have been hospitalized at some point due to the coronavirus, the state said. That could include people who have left the hospital or who have died.

While Florida is the third-largest state in the nation, some smaller states have reported higher death tolls and positive cases of the coronavirus, including Illinois, Michigan and Massachusetts.

Florida and several other states are grappling with the question of when to ease some social restrictions and reopen the economy.

Times staff writer Langston Taylor 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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