Florida adds 5,511 coronavirus cases as weekly death average ticks upward

Tampa Bay area saw record-high increases in Hillsborough and Pinellas County
A local St. Petersburg resident gets tested for COVID-19 at a free drive-up and walk-up testing site coordinated by the Florida Department of Health at the Frank Pierce Recreation Center in Bartlett Park.
A local St. Petersburg resident gets tested for COVID-19 at a free drive-up and walk-up testing site coordinated by the Florida Department of Health at the Frank Pierce Recreation Center in Bartlett Park. [ Boyzell Hosey ]
Published Jun. 24, 2020|Updated Jun. 24, 2020

Wednesday was yet another grim day of shattered records in Tampa Bay and around the state.

Florida logged a new record for single-day recorded coronavirus cases, adding 5,511 infections on Wednesday and bringing the state total to 109,014. The previous record was Saturday, when the state logged 4,049 new coronavirus infections.

In the Tampa Bay area, Hillsborough’s positive cases hit a single-day high Wednesday of 716 new infections. Pinellas County also broke its record with 354 new cases.

Hospitalizations statewide also increased by 251 people on Wednesday, higher than in previous days. The increase is the seventh-largest since the pandemic began, with higher single-day increases recorded in April and May.

The record cases come on a day when news reports emerged that a second Florida teen had died from COVID-19, a 17-year-old girl in Fort Myers. The first to die was a 17-year-old boy from Pasco County who has not yet been publicly identified.

Florida’s surge in cases also prompted some states like New York and New Jersey to issue new travel restrictions on visitors coming from areas of the country where coronavirus cases are surging.

As cases have risen, Gov. Ron DeSantis has emphasized that the median age of those testing positive is trending younger, typically between 33 to 37.

While the bulk of coronavirus deaths are people ages 65 and older, younger people have been hospitalized because of the virus. Fifteen percent of all the state’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations have come from people 25 to 44, according to data from the health department.

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

What’s the picture in the state?

Florida has been tracking coronavirus cases for nearly four months but about 27 percent of all infections have come in just the past seven days. Wednesday was the ninth consecutive day with a new caseload above 2,000 and the 16th day in a row above 1,000.

An estimated 1.67 million Floridians, about 8 percent of the state’s population, have been tested for the virus since the beginning of March.

Testing increased sharply in mid-May, but fell at May’s end. It has remained steady through June with an average of about 26,000 to 28,000 tests done each day.

The state recorded 44 new deaths. Statewide, 3,377 people have died from the virus.

The spike on Wednesday came as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced that travelers from states with spiking infection rates would have to quarantine for 14 days.

In Florida, travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are still required to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival, per a March executive order from DeSantis.

While DeSantis has highlighted that people who are now testing positive are less at risk for critical illness because they tend to be younger, the virus can lead to the death of young people, too.

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A Fort Myers 17-year-old died from from COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to news accounts. Carsyn Davis was admitted to a children’s hospital on Friday. Two days later, on her 17th birthday, she was admitted to the intensive care unit and diagnosed with COVID-19. On Monday she was airlifted to receive more intensive care, and on Tuesday she died.

A 17-year-old from Pasco County has also died from the virus, according to state data.

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

What’s the picture in the Tampa Bay area?

Hillsborough and Pinellas counties saw record-breaking single-day coronavirus cases on Wednesday, and both counties now have mask orders in place to help stop community spread of the virus.

Pasco also had a larger than normal increase of 130 cases. In total, the eight Tampa Bay-area counties added 1,521 cases on Wednesday — about 28 percent of Florida’s new cases for the day.

The area recorded seven new deaths, with three in Pinellas, two in Hillsborough and two in Polk counties.

On Tuesday, Pinellas added 13 recorded deaths in one day, the worst day for any county in the Tampa Bay area since the pandemic began.

Newly identified deaths include Hillsborough women age 96, 91 and 43, Pinellas men age 76 and 63, an 84-year-old Pinellas woman, an 89-year-old Polk woman and a 65-year-old Polk man.

As of the latest counts, Hillsborough has 6,892 cases and 124 deaths; Pinellas has 4,387 cases and 134 deaths; Polk has 2,454 cases and 81 deaths; Manatee has 2,132 cases and 129 deaths; Pasco has 1,084 cases and 18 deaths; Citrus has 219 cases and 12 deaths; and Hernando has 218 cases and six deaths.

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.

How does coronavirus data differ based on race?

The majority of Florida’s deaths, hospitalizations and cases have been among white people, but data shows there’s still a race disparity.

Black people make up 16 percent of the state’s total population, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, but 18 percent of all coronavirus cases in Florida have been among African Americans. Black patients make up 26 percent of all hospitalizations and 21 percent of deaths.

Hispanic people make up 34 percent of coronavirus cases in Florida, 35 percent of hospitalizations and 25 percent of deaths.

In the Tampa Bay area, it also appears there are disparities in race and coronavirus cases. Black people make up about 10 percent of Pinellas County’s population, but are about 23 percent of the county’s cases and hospitalizations. In Hillsborough, African Americans make up about 17 percent of the population, but are 30 percent of the county’s virus-related hospitalizations and 24 percent of its deaths.

Some public health experts have emphasized that focusing on racial disparities is key to controlling and managing the spread of the virus.

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