On eve of ‘full’ Phase One reopening, Florida reports 777 new coronavirus cases

Health officials also reported Sunday that 9 more have died as a result of the respiratory infection.
Sunstar paramedics work to move one of 21 residents of Gulf Shore Care Center in Pinellas Park who tested positive for COVID-19 to local hospitals on May 13.
Sunstar paramedics work to move one of 21 residents of Gulf Shore Care Center in Pinellas Park who tested positive for COVID-19 to local hospitals on May 13. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published May 17, 2020

On the eve of Florida’s announced “Full Phase One, statewide reopening," its Department of Health tallied more than 700 new cases of novel coronavirus infection in its morning update. It’s an above-average daily increase at a time when health officials have assured Floridians that the state’s curve generally is beginning to flatten.

In its Sunday update, the Department of Health reported it was tracking 45,588 confirmed positive coronavirus cases, which is up by 777 cases from Saturday’s numbers. Fifteen of the new cases involve non-residents. Of the total number of positive cases, 1,219 are non-Florida residents who were in the state when they became infected by the virus.

Health officials also reported that nine more people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that can lead to severe respiratory infections. That brings the total number of dead in Florida to 2,049, including both residents and non-residents.

The newly reported deaths occurred over a 24-hour period starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, health officials said, and occurred in Citrus, Dade, Desoto, Duval, Hillsborough, Martin and Polk counties.

A live dashboard with the latest coronavirus numbers is on the Florida Department of Health’s website.

Related: Ron DeSantis: Florida gyms will reopen starting Monday

Under the governor’s “full Phase One” reopening plan, restaurants will be allowed to seat customers at 50 percent of their normal capacity. Retail stores, museums, gyms, fitness studios and other venues also will be allowed to operate at half their normal capacity.

By midday Sunday, the Florida’s Department of Health reported that nearly 1,289 people are awaiting test results, while another 1,479 received results that were “inconclusive.”

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

The statewide picture

After two sudden peaks in the number of coronavirus cases reported in Florida last month, state health officials say the curve generally has begun to flatten in May with an average of slightly fewer than 700 new cases added every day.

According to Gov. Ron DeSantis, that’s a daily caseload that the state’s hospitals can handle.

State officials largely attributed Sunday’s slightly above-average number of new COVID-19 cases to a large injection of test results received by the state Department of Health this weekend. On Saturday alone, the department said it received results from more than 29,600 coronavirus tests, the update said.

However, the number of new cases added to the state’s total every day doesn’t always reflect the number of cases discovered or confirmed in any given day. State health officials say large batches of results like Saturday’s often include data from multiple days of testing. And the state’s reported data often changes retroactively as health officials receive more information on each case.

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The state has ramped up testing in recent weeks, but as of Sunday, 653,081 people have been tested for the virus — about 3 percent of the state’s total population of 21.48 million, according to the Department of Health. Of those tested, roughly 7 percent tested positive for the disease, the report said.

A reported 8,478 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 infections since the first cases were reported in Florida on March 1.

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

Morning updates typically show low numbers for the current day.

What’s the picture around Tampa Bay?

The coronavirus continues to ravage Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties to the south, but the number of infected in Hillsborough County also has climbed past the 1,000-case threshold in recent days and it sits as the fifth-highest in the state.

Of Sunday’s nine deaths attributed to the virus, two came from Hillsborough County, one from Citrus and one from Polk, according to the state health department, bringing the seven-county Tampa Bay area’s overall death count to 276 lives lost.

Of those deaths, 82 have occurred in Manatee County, 68 in Pinellas, 56 in Hillsborough, 42 in Polk, 12 in Citrus, 10 in Pasco and 6 in Hernando counties, according to the state.

From Saturday to Sunday, Hillsborough County’s total number of tracked coronavirus cases increased by 29 to 1,614 confirmed infections. Manatee County saw the second-highest overnight jump, with an additional 15 cases, bringing the countywide total to 849. Pinellas and Polk counties each added 14 new cases to overall totals of 1,022 cases and 736 cases, respectively. Pasco’s 316 cases and Citrus County’s 112 cases both reflect an increase of two, and Hernando reported one additional infection, bringing its total to 109 tracked cases.

The counties that make up the greater Tampa Bay area — Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk — together account for 4,758 confirmed cases.

The percentage of deaths tied to nursing homes and long-term care centers has been steadily increasing across the state. At least 43 percent of deaths statewide can be attributed to long-term care facilities — the equivalent of 875 lives lost.

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.

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