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Florida tops 100,000 coronavirus cases on the day the world saw its biggest rise

An additional 12 deaths over the past 24 hours brings the state's death toll to 3,266.
 
The 200-foot dive on the SheiKra roller coaster can be terrifying, but patrons at Busch Gardens enjoy it while wearing the face coverings now required at the Tampa park.
The 200-foot dive on the SheiKra roller coaster can be terrifying, but patrons at Busch Gardens enjoy it while wearing the face coverings now required at the Tampa park. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published June 22, 2020|Updated June 22, 2020

On a global scale, the Monday report brought the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases since the virus evolved into a pandemic, the World Health Organization said. In Florida, the number of people diagnosed with the respiratory virus topped 100,000.

The Florida Department of Health’s daily report Monday morning added 2,926 more cases to Sunday’s updated numbers, bringing the state’s running total of positive infections to 100,217.

Over the same 24-hour period, an additional 12 people have died from the novel coronavirus across Florida, in Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Orange, Pinellas and Seminole counties. That brings the overall death toll in Florida to 3,266 in just under three months.

The updated figures were released hours before Hillsborough County’s Emergency Policy Group approved a new mandate requiring masks and face coverings to be worn at all indoor businesses within county limits.

As of Monday, Tampa ranked third out of all Florida cities in number of positive COVID-19 cases with 3,863 - just shy of second-place Orlando’s 3,873 cases. The city with the most coronavirus cases in the state was Miami, where 15,435 people have tested positive since the first Florida-based coronavirus cases were announced to the public March 1.

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

What’s the picture statewide?

Monday was the 20th consecutive day that the number of people who tested positive for coronavirus exceeded 1,000 - yet another grim milestone for the state that health experts say is proof that Florida’s once flattened “curve” in infection rates isn’t curved anymore.

“Now, all of those things we were worried about a few months ago are things we’re worried about again - things like our hospitals becoming overwhelmed or the rate of infection to start snowballing,” Pinellas County EMS Medical Director Dr. Angus Jameson told the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re not totally overwhelmed by the increases just yet, but if these trends continue I’m very concerned that we could be, maybe in just a couple weeks.”

Florida is among at least 18 states — mainly across the South and West — where the number of positive COVID-19 patients has reached record highs this month. Many seeing the spike in activity, like Florida, were among the first states in the country to reopen businesses after a nearly three-month, nationwide economic shutdown that left millions of business owners and employees without a source of income.

The shutdown succeeded in slowing the virus’ spread, Jameson said, but that work started coming undone nearly as soon as Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted his statewide stay-at-home order on May 4.

And now that most of the state has entered “Phase 2″ of the governor’s three-part plan for jump-starting Florida’s stalled economy, the deadly virus has begun to pick up steam.

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Last week’s reported coronavirus cases account for more than one-fifth of all cases reported out of Florida during the pandemic’s lifespan, hitting a peak of more than 4,000 new cases reported on Saturday.

The sudden surge in cases prompted Florida’s Department of Health to issue a new health advisory over the weekend, urging the public to avoid crowds of more than 50 people and to wear a mask or cloth face covering at all times when out in public. Gov. DeSantis even repeated that request during a Saturday press conference, but stopped short of issuing any executive orders that would enforce such measures.

Instead, DeSantis chalked the high caseloads to an increase in testing. But Jameson cautioned if that were true, Florida would be seeing a much lower proportion of positive tests, or at a positive percentage rate that’s remained relatively stable.

Instead, the 2,926 newly identified positive COVID-19 cases represent an infection rate of about 7.74 percent —significantly less than the 12 percent infection rate reported by the state over the weekend but still twice as high as it was at the start of the month.

“That means it’s not just that we’re testing more people. The numbers are higher because there are actually more tests coming back positive,” Jameson said.

According to health department data, the rate of infection in Florida has now grown to 500 people out of every 100,000, or one person out of 200.

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

What’s the picture in Tampa Bay?

The Tampa Bay region lost three more lives to the coronavirus overnight, two in Pinellas Coutny and one in Hillsborough, the state’s report said.

Their deaths bring the total number of lives lost across the seven counties that make up Tampa Bay to 478, state records show. Manatee county leads the region with 128 deaths, followed by 118 in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, 78 in Polk, 18 in Pasco, 12 in Citrus and six in Hernando.

And over the past 24 hours, Tampa Bay’s health experts have reported 938 new coronavirus cases.

Hillsborough saw its caseload increase by 393 on Monday, clinching its hold on the fourth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the state with 5,937 infections, according to the Florida Department of Health - roughly six percent of all cases in the state. Pinellas County ranks sixth out of 67 counties, with 2,225 coronavirus cases, Polk County comes in 10th with 1,977 cases and Manatee ranks 11th in the state with 872 positive cases.

The number of positive cases in Pasco County grew by 63 cases on Monday to an overall total of 872 coronavirus infection. The number of infections in Hernando County increased by 15 to an overall total of 200, and Citrus County now counts 199 cases - a daily increase of 10.

State officials warn that frequent delays in data reporting means that the cases and deaths reported by the state each day may have actually have occurred days or weeks earlier.

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.

Who is catching the coronavirus?

Throughout the state, the average age of those testing positive for the coronavirus has dropped dramatically this month. Some counties reported the median ages of those infected has plummeted from the mid 50s and 60s to the low 20s and 30s.

In Hillsborough County, for example, less than 11 percent of coronavirus patients are over the age of 65. Now, the average age of those infected with the virus is just 37, and the number of infections among those between the ages of 25 and 34 has jumped from roughly 15 percent of all cases last week to just under a quarter of all cases - roughly 1,300 people - on Monday.

Some say the sudden shift in demographics is a blessing for the state, as younger people tend to have healthier immune systems and are more likely to be asymptomatic entirely. Likewise, the number of deaths and hospitalizations across the state has remained steady as the caseload has continued to rise.

But the very fact that health experts have seen a definitive increase in cases among a demographic less likely to experience the symptoms is cause for concern, Jameson said.

“This is not like the chicken pox, where you get exposed and then you’re done with it forever,” Jameson said. “This is a really nasty, painful disease and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what it can do.”

Children under 18 still made up less than 5 percent of the state’s reported cases. Yet according to the state’s latest report on pediatric COVID-19 cases, Florida’s youngest demographic is testing positive for the novel coronavirus at almost twice the statewide infection rate for people of all ages.

And the little that health experts do know about the coronavirus comes only from those who were vigilant or sick enough to get tested, he said.

State health officials said Monday’s numbers were culled from more than 37,100 test results received by the office in the past 24 hours. By Monday afternoon, more than 1.6 million people had undergone state testing for the coronavirus. Still, that’s less than 7.5 percent of Florida’s population.

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