Florida adds more than 6,500 coronavirus cases

A quarter of the cases reported Wednesday came from the Tampa Bay area, with Hillsborough No. 4 among all Florida's counties.
Drive-thru testing at Tropicana Field was closed for the day by 8 a.m. Wednesday as the state expands COVID-19 testing.
Drive-thru testing at Tropicana Field was closed for the day by 8 a.m. Wednesday as the state expands COVID-19 testing. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published July 1, 2020|Updated July 1, 2020

Four months after the first coronavirus cases were announced, Florida recorded 6,563 new infections on Wednesday, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to 158,997.

About a quarter of the daily cases were recorded in the Tampa Bay area. Hillsborough County, the fourth most-populous of Florida’s 67 counties, leads the Tampa Bay area in new infections and also ranks fourth for coronavirus infections behind Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The state also recorded an additional 46 deaths, bringing the total to 3,650 deaths. About 39 deaths are being added each day on average, up slightly from the average throughout most of early and mid-June.

The state also added 246 hospitalizations, making it the eighth highest single-day change since the pandemic began.

The numbers come after a record-high on Saturday, when the state reported more than 9,500 infections over 24 hours. The number drew comparisons to New York, which hadn’t seen a day with that many reported cases since April 25.

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

What’s the picture statewide?

As Florida expanded testing starting in early June, the number of tests began to trend up dramatically. Record-highs were recorded day after day.

But health experts point to Florida’s high percentage of positive tests as evidence that new cases can’t be attributed just to expanded testing. ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization, show’s Florida’s positive tests per capita is not only on the rise, but one of the highest of any state.

In the past week, an average of about 16 percent of daily tests have come back positive in Florida. This is above the World Health Organization recommended guideline of 5 percent. Arizona is the only state with a higher average. The WHO warns that too a high percentage of positive tests may be a sign that testing isn’t being done widely enough to understand and contain the spread of the virus.

Since March, almost two million people in Florida have been tested for COVID-19.

But labs across the nation have begun to hit a limit as demand for test processing outpaces their ability to do the work, according to The Atlantic.

The Harvard Global Health Institute has set two goals. One calls for testing 1.2 million people nationwide to mitigate the virus and keep it from spreading. The other goal is testing 4.3 million people a day to suppress the virus and return to normal public life, according to NPR.

In Florida, the testing level falls below the group’s testing target for mitigation and suppression. In the past seven days, the state has averaged about 42,000 new tests a day. To mitigate the virus in the state, three times that many tests would have to be conducted. To reach the level of suppression, the number of daily tests would have to be 13 times greater.

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Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

What’s the picture in Tampa Bay?

The Tampa Bay area added 1,666 infections on Wednesday and 14 deaths.

The most deaths came out of Pinellas, which recorded six new fatalities. Four were recorded in Polk, and two were recorded in both Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

The new deaths include a 93-year-old man and a 92-year-old woman in Hillsborough; men 35 and 55 in Pasco; men 65, 88 and 90 and women 77, 83 and 97 in Pinellas; and a 96-year-old woman and men 70, 72 and 73 in Polk.

As of the latest counts, Hillsborough has 11,465 cases and 143 deaths; Pinellas has 6,861 cases and 174 deaths; Polk has 4,048 cases and 103 deaths; Manatee has 3,015 cases and 132 deaths; Pasco has 2,133 cases and 22 deaths; Hernando has 408 cases and six deaths; and Citrus has 323 cases and 13 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.

Does Florida have more coronavirus cases than Europe?

As Florida’s numbers have trended upward, people across the nation have turned their eye to the state.

A viral tweet with more than 248,000 likes claimed Florida has more coronavirus cases than all of Europe. That’s false.

Since the start of the pandemic, Florida has recorded more about 159,000 infections in a state with a population of about 21.5 million people. Russia alone has recorded about 653,000 coronavirus cases.

Even looking at new cases by day, Florida falls short of Europe. On Florida’s highest single day, Saturday, the state recorded about 9,500 new cases. New cases across all European countries that day came in at just under 18,000, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

The continent as a whole has a population of about 766 million people, compared to Florida’s 21.5 million.

Looking only at the 27 member states in the European Union, Florida did record more new cases Saturday. The 27 EU states, with a combined population of about 447 million, recorded 6,112 new cases that day.

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