Florida posted its second-highest daily increase in deaths from the coronavirus Wednesday even as the Sunshine State debates when to begin relaxing restrictions and reopening the economy.
The state reported 28,576 confirmed cases of the virus, an increase of more than 700 from Tuesday.
It said 945 of those people have died after contracting the virus. That’s an increase of 61 deaths from 24 hours earlier. Since the state’s first death more than a month ago, only one day has seen more reported deaths.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has noted that Florida’s curve of infections is flatter than initial expert projections as his administration focuses on how and when to start reopening the state’s economy.
But any reopening will depend on how confident Floridians feel that they will be safe going into work or dining out at restaurants.
A new poll by Quinnipiac University said 72 percent of Florida voters are not ready for the state’s safer-at-home guidelines to be lifted by the end of this month. That poll found that 76 percent say that the state’s economy should only reopen when public health officials deem it safe, compared to 17 percent who say it should reopen even if public health officials warn against it.
It said voters don’t think the coronavirus crisis will end quickly, with 49 percent saying it will last a few months and 26 percent saying it will last more than a year.
Amid this uncertainty, the state’s daily tally of cases, tests and deaths is an important barometer.
How fast is the number of Florida COVID-19 cases growing?
Morning updates typically show low numbers for the current day.
The number of known cases of the coronavirus in Hillsborough County hit 986 as of Wednesday evening, with 23 deaths reported.
The state reported 641 confirmed coronavirus cases in Pinellas County, 83 in Hernando County and 220 in Pasco County.
Nearby, Manatee County has 448 reported cases, while Polk has 364 and Citrus County has 92.
There have been more than 110 deaths among those seven greater Tampa Bay region counties. Manatee County has reported the most deaths, at 35, despite having a smaller county population than Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk or Pasco.
The state reported one new death in Hillsborough County, that of a 94-year-old woman. It reported three new deaths in Pinellas County, of a 90-year-old woman, 90-year-old man and 75-year-old man.
The state also reported the deaths of an 81-year-old Citrus woman and an 82-year-old Polk man.
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.
The number of cases of the coronavirus reported by the state is likely an undercount, given limited testing, testing delays and the likelihood that some people who may have the coronavirus will never be tested.
What are the latest numbers on coronavirus in Tampa Bay?
The death toll keeps rising in long-term care facilities, the state said Wednesday. More than 2,330 confirmed cases have now been found among residents and staff, an 8 percent increase from 24 hours earlier. There have been 248 coronavirus-related deaths linked to those facilities — roughly a quarter of the total COVID-19 deaths reported in the state.
Statewide, 292,636 people have been tested for the virus, the equivalent of roughly 1.4 percent of the state’s population.
To date, 4,638 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That total could include people who are no longer hospitalized, or who have died.
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 staff writer Langston Taylor contributed to this report.
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