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Florida coronavirus deaths surpass 1,900 as state adds 50 fatalities

Confirmed infections rose to 43,210 Thursday.

Florida added 50 deaths from the coronavirus Thursday, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,948.

Confirmed cases of the virus jumped statewide by 808. Overall, 43,210 people have been infected by the virus in Florida.

As of Thursday, 609,574 people statewide have been tested. The percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 — the disease caused by the virus — is about 7 percent, according to the state.

New reported cases have been growing at a relatively flat rate since the end of April. Over the past week, Florida averaged about 629 new cases each day.

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

More prison deaths

Two more inmates have died after testing positive for the coronavirus in Florida prisons, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Blackwater River Correctional Facility in Northwest Florida recorded one additional inmate death from the virus, bringing its total fatalities to seven.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, 57 inmates and 13 staff members at Blackwater River have tested positive for the virus. The private facility is operated by GEO Group.

The second inmate death reported by the health department occurred at Sumter Correctional Institution. There, 101 inmates and 16 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Two inmates have died.

Combined, Blackwater River and Sumter account for the state’s nine coronavirus-related deaths among inmates.

Other prisons have also seen significant outbreaks. More than 750 inmates and 100 staff members have been infected across seven other facilities: Apalachee Correctional Institution, Columbia Correctional Institution, Hamilton Correctional Institution, Homestead Correctional Institution, Liberty Correctional Institution, South Bay Correctional Facility and Tomoka Correctional Institution.

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.

Testing in long-term care facilities

Coronavirus deaths tied to long-term care centers continue to rise in Florida, accounting for about 42 percent of the state’s fatalities. As of Thursday, the number of deaths attributed to residents and staff stood at 814.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said this week that he wants to increase testing for the virus in Florida’s long-term care facilities. The White House recommended Monday that states should test every resident and staff member in America’s nursing homes.

But Florida will continue to focus on hot spots, only sending a team to a facility to conduct testing if someone there has already tested positive, has displayed symptoms of COVID-19, or has been exposed to the virus.

In Pinellas County, the top health official told commissioners Thursday that more residents testing positive for the virus in the county’s long-term care centers would likely be transferred to area hospitals. Commissioners questioned health officials about whether there was enough testing for residents but didn’t get clear answers.

Pinellas has 46 coronavirus deaths tied to long-term care centers, according to state figures. The broader Tampa Bay region has 148.

DeSantis also said Wednesday that he wants to restart visitation at long-term care facilities but didn’t provide specifics as to when or how.

The latest in Tampa Bay

The broader Tampa Bay area on Thursday recorded eight new coronavirus deaths, bringing the region’s fatality count to 258.

The deaths Thursday were: an 83-year-old woman and 75-year-old man in Hillsborough; two men, aged 85 and 90, and a 73-year-old woman in Manatee; two women aged 59 and 89 in Pinellas; and a 92-year-old woman in Polk.

The new fatalities don’t necessarily mean the people died Thursday; Thursday marks the first time the state reported their deaths publicly.

The counties that make up the greater Tampa Bay area — Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk — together account for 4,524 confirmed cases.

As of the latest counts, Hillsborough had 1,530 cases and 49 deaths; Pinellas had 962 cases and 66 deaths; Manatee had 813 cases and 79 deaths; Polk had 698 cases and 37 deaths; Pasco had 308 cases and 10 deaths; Citrus had 109 cases and 11 deaths; and Hernando had 104 cases and six deaths.

What are the latest numbers on coronavirus in Tampa Bay?

Times staff writer Langston Taylor contributed to this report.

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