Florida sees record 3,207 new coronavirus cases, with new highs for Tampa Bay

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said cases are rising because of more testing, though some models predict danger ahead for Florida.
Healthcare workers administer tests as vehicles line up in March at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Healthcare workers administer tests as vehicles line up in March at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published June 18, 2020

Florida again passed a record for most single-day coronavirus cases on Thursday, adding 3,207 new infections and bringing the state total to 85,926.

About 21 percent of those new cases came out of the Tampa Bay area, even though the metropolitan area accounts for just 13 percent of Florida’s population. Hillsborough and Pinellas County both had record-high single-day case numbers, Hillsborough with 337 and Pinellas with 203.

Deaths statewide increased by 44 people on Thursday and hospitalizations rose by 189 people.

Despite the high case numbers each day — Thursday was the 16th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new cases — Gov. Ron DeSantis has held firm in his explanation that the increase is attributable to expanded testing of people who show no symptoms of the disease and people in higher-risk populations.

But some models show Florida in danger of a sustained increase.

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

What’s the picture in Florida?

A spokeswoman for DeSantis tweeted on Wednesday that the median age for those testing positive during a week in June was 37.

Younger people are increasingly testing positive for coronavirus but rarely die from the disease. Of all the 3,154 deaths in Florida from coronavirus, only 20 are people 34 and younger.

The state has tested about 1.5 million people, with about 5.7 percent coming back positive.

According to a model from the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania, Florida has “all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission,” CNN reports.

Another prominent model, at one point cited by the White House, projects Florida will record more than 18,500 deaths by October. However, the model’s earlier predictions for Florida didn’t come to fruition.

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

What’s the picture in Tampa Bay?

Tampa Bay counties saw record-high single day cases on Thursday, accounting for about 21 percent of the state’s daily new cases. It also recorded nine new deaths, with five in Manatee County, two in Pinellas County and one in both Hillsborough and Polk counties.

Some local leaders have expressed concern about the rising number of cases, with the director of the state Department of Health in Hillsborough calling it a crossroads for the area.

On Wednesday, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman directed businesses to have their employees wear masks indoors in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

The new recorded deaths include a 58-year-old Hillsborough woman, a 69-year-old Manatee man, a 60-year-old Manatee man, an 89-year-old Manatee woman, a 56-year-old Manatee man, an 84-year-old Manatee man, an 81-year-old Pinellas man, an 82-year-old Pinellas woman and a 67-year-old Polk man.

As of the latest counts, Hillsborough has 4,610 cases and 108 deaths; Pinellas has 2,887 cases and 113 deaths; Polk has 1,702 cases and 76 deaths; Manatee has 1,548 cases and 124 deaths; Pasco has 627 cases and 17 deaths; Citrus has 162 cases and 12 deaths; and Hernando has 151 cases and six deaths.

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