Twelve deaths related to the novel coronavirus were reported Thursday in the greater Tampa Bay region as Florida said its death toll had jumped by 50 to reach 1,290.
To date, 33,690 people statewide have confirmed cases of the virus.
In the greater Tampa Bay region, where the first two known Florida cases were found, there have been 3,354 cases and 166 deaths to date.
The seven-county region makes up roughly 20 percent of the state’s population. It makes up less than 10 percent of the state’s confirmed cases and less than 13 percent of the known deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The harder-hit South Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach make up roughly 29 percent of the state population but 59 percent of the cases and 57 percent of the deaths as of Thursday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, in announcing his plan Wednesday to begin reopening the state, opted to keep South Florida out of the first phase of relaxed restrictions. However, he said he may consider issuing an order for those counties soon.
The number of cases reported by the state is likely an undercount. Some people who may have the novel coronavirus will never get tested, including some who may be asymptomatic. Limited testing, testing delays and delays in reporting could also lend themselves to an undercount.
How fast is the number of Florida COVID-19 cases growing?
Morning updates typically show low numbers for the current day.
Experts say widespread testing will be key to any reopening,
DeSantis on Wednesday said part of the strategy in his Phase 1 of reopening will be to expand testing and discussed various efforts to do so, including procuring an RV with a mobile testing lab inside of it.
Florida needs to be testing at least 150 people per every 100,000 residents each day, Dr. Charles Lockwood, the dean of University of South Florida’s College of Medicine, said Monday at a news conference with DeSantis in Tampa.
Florida is not currently anywhere near that.
On Thursday, the state said 382,966 people have been tested to date, an increase of fewer than 9,000 tests from the day before. That’s the equivalent of about 42 people tested per 100,000.
The newly reported deaths in the greater Tampa Bay region Thursday include six in Manatee County, three in Pinellas, and one each in Pasco, Hernando and Polk. Those people may not necessarily have died Thursday; Thursday is the first time the state has reported their deaths publicly.
According to the state update, those newly reported deaths are: a 67-year-old Hernando woman; a 72-year-old Pasco man; a 75-year-old Polk man; Manatee women aged 54, 80, 84 and 88 and Manatee men aged 60 and 85; and an 80-year-old Pinellas woman and two Pinellas men aged 89 and 91.
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Overall, Hillsborough County continues to have the most known cases of the virus in the region, with 1,124 cases and 25 deaths.
Much-smaller Manatee County has the most reported deaths in the area, at 56, and has 580 cases. At least some of those higher numbers are a result of outbreaks in some nursing homes in the county. As of Thursday, the state said 29 of Manatee County’s deaths are among residents or staff of long-term care facilities.
Manatee County has the second-highest per-capita death rate in the state from the coronavirus, beating even South Florida. Only Suwannee County, which has reported 14 COVID-19 deaths, all of them among residents or staff of long-term care facilities, has a higher death rate compared to its county population.
The state reported 729 cases and 38 deaths in Pinellas County, 90 cases and six deaths in Hernando County and 249 cases and seven deaths in Pasco County.
Polk has 483 cases and 23 deaths, and Citrus County has 99 cases and 11 deaths, according to the state.
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.
To date, nearly 5,800 people have been hospitalized at some point due to the virus. That number could include people who have recovered or are deceased.
The state said 423, or roughly a third, of the total death toll from the coronavirus has been among residents or staff of long-term care facilities.
What are the latest numbers on coronavirus in Tampa Bay?
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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