Florida reports an additional 5,266 cases, 28 deaths from coronavirus

Florida normally reports lower death totals on Sundays and Mondays, but not this week.
Workers wear masks at a St. Petersburg construction site in April. The number of coronavirus infections has increased for weeks in Florida, raising questions about plans for a broader reopening.
Workers wear masks at a St. Petersburg construction site in April. The number of coronavirus infections has increased for weeks in Florida, raising questions about plans for a broader reopening. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published June 29, 2020|Updated June 29, 2020

The Florida Department of Health confirmed an additional 5,266 coronavirus cases in Monday’s daily update on the virus’ spread throughout the state as communities creep closer to a full reopening of their local economies.

The 24-hour increase in reported cases brings the number of people infected in Florida to 146,341. The Monday number reflects a drop after a run of record-breaking totals surpassing 8,000 and 9,000 a day.

The decrease in daily caseload is due, at least in part, to a drop in the number of overall test results returned to the state. It also shows an increase in the overall percentage of tests coming back positive for the novel coronavirus, casting doubt on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ explanation that this month’s rapidly increasing caseload is due to an increase in tests being administered.

Still, it was the 28 deaths reported on Monday that gave health experts the most cause for alarm. It followed 29 deaths reported Sunday, the highest total so far on the two days whose numbers have lagged behind the other days of the week since data tracking began March 1.

Records show that the state has reported an average of 40 deaths per day over the past week. The last time the number was so high was May 16, at the height of the pandemic.

What’s happening across the state?

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

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

Over the past 24 hours, Florida’s hospitals saw 111 patients admitted with COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the virus.

Hospitals are at nearly 75 percent capacity across the state, according to the report.

Of the 3,546 people who have died from the coronavirus, more than half are tied to outbreaks in long-term care facilities. And in the seven counties that make up the Tampa Bay area, the number of deaths connected to these centers accounts for about 66 percent of the 557 lives lost.

The number of coronavirus infections has continued to increase throughout Florida for weeks, calling into question DeSantis’ decision to continue moving toward the final tier of his three-step plan to reopen the state’s businesses and other economic drivers.

At news conferences during the weekend, DeSantis pointed to the shifting demographics of Florida’s coronavirus patients as a blessing for state hospitals, which the state has sought to keep from becoming overwhelmed with patients by enacting stay-at-home and social distancing restrictions.

Since the start of the pandemic, the demographic of those infected in Florida has shifted from people in their mid-50s and older to those making up the bulk of the workforce — people 18 to 44. For the past two weeks, the median age of newly confirmed coronavirus patients has varied from 33 to 40, based on Monday’s data.

DeSantis pointed to research showing younger demographics are at the lowest risk of developing life-threatening symptoms.

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Still, health experts caution that no one is immune from the virus. It recently claimed the lives of two people under 18.

South Florida remains the hot spot for coroanvirus cases in Florida. On Monday, Miami-Dade County added 1,508 cases to its confirmed coronavirus caseload of 35,222 people. Broward County remains a distant second to Miami-Dade with 15,045 cases and Palm Beach County reports 13,711 cases.

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.

What’s the latest in Tampa Bay?

The counties that make up the Tampa Bay region — Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk — account for 25,629 of the state’s coronavirus cases and 557 of its deaths.

Among Florida cases reported over the past 24 hours, Tampa Bay accounted for 1,056 or roughly 20 percent. For the day, the Tampa Bay area reported one death in Citrus County, which brings the toll there to 13, and three in Hillsborough County, which now counts 138 deaths.

Polk County has 94 deaths, Pasco County 18, Manatee County 132 and Hernando County six.

Pinellas County, where several large outbreaks have occurred in nursing homes, continues to lead the region in reported deaths with 156. But while the Tampa Bay area continues to see cases in long-term care facilities, recent reports suggest that coronavirus is on the decline among the region’s most vulnerable populations.

At the start of June, about 25 percent of all coronavirus cases in Pinellas County could be tied to a long-term care facility or nursing home, state records show. But on Monday, that number dropped to just under 15 percent. In Hillsborough County, only 7 percent of coronavirus cases are tied to such facilities. The state average is about 9 percent of all cases.

The median age of coronavirus patients in Hillsborough County is now 34, and in Pinellas it’s 38.

Hillsborough County saw its number of coronavirus infections increase by 405 on Monday, bringing the total to 10,323 and making it the fourth county in Florida to surpass 10,000. In Pinellas County, another large increase of 240 cases brought the total caseload to 6,260.

The city of Tampa ranked third among all major cities in Florida with 6,624 confirmed infections. At the top of the list was Miami, where nearly 21,000 infections have been reported, and Orlando was No. 2 with 7,477 cases.

What’s the latest on testing?

Over the past four months, state health officials have tested just over 1.9 million people for the coronavirus — about 8.9 percent of Florida’s total population.

Of the 41,626 test results returned to the state Department of Health on Monday, 15.7 percent were positive for COVID-19, according to the state health department, marking the fifth consecutive day the state has seen an increase in positivity.

“That means it’s not just that we’re testing more people,” Pinellas County EMS medical director Dr. Angus Jameson told the Tampa Bay Times. “The numbers are higher because there are actually more tests coming back positive.”

State health officials have sought to assuage public concerns about rolling back restrictions even as cases to rise by pointing to ramped-up testing efforts this month.

To accommodate increased demand for testing, BayCare Health Systems opened Pinellas County’s Tropicana Field as a drive-thru testing site similar to one operating out of Raymond James Stadium in Hillsborough. Barely an hour after the baseball stadium site opened for business on Monday, staff there had exhausted the roughly 600 coronavirus testing kits allotted for the day.

County officials said testing will resume outside Tropicana Field at 7 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis with a daily limit based on supplies.

Turnaround time for test results is about three or four days, according to the county.

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