Coronavirus cases in Florida top 200,000; daily death toll 14 in Pinellas

State health officials reported an additional 10,059 infections and 29 deaths statewide on Sunday.
Cars line up June 26 for drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Community Health Centers of Pinellas at Johnnie Ruth Clarke, 22nd Street South.
Cars line up June 26 for drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Community Health Centers of Pinellas at Johnnie Ruth Clarke, 22nd Street South. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Jul. 5, 2020|Updated Jul. 6, 2020

Once again, Florida’s health officials reported Sunday that the number of coronavirus infections throughout the state has increased by more than 10,000 over a 24-hour period — enough to push the state’s overall caseload past 200,000.

With an additional 10,059 novel coronavirus infections reported Sunday, Florida’s caseload now stands at 200,111 — roughly one in every 112 people. Sunday was the third day out of four where more than 10,000 cases were reported, following Saturday’s caseload of 11,445.

The state Department of Health also reported Sunday that an additional 29 people have died from COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the novel coronavirus, bringing the overall death toll to 3,832.

Pinellas County reported 14 deaths during the 24-hour reporting period — a record-breaking high for deaths reported in a single day. The previous record was set June 23, when 13 deaths were reported in Pinellas County. In all, Pinellas has suffered a total of 200 deaths to the coronavirus and is averaging 6 deaths per day.

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

What’s the picture statewide?

It took roughly four months, or 114 days for the coronavirus to amass its first 100,000 cases in Florida — a chilling marker Florida reached on June 22.

In less than two weeks, though, the coronavirus has racked up another 100,000 infections in the state.

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

Still, even as cases shot up during the Fourth of July weekend, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has refrained from issuing a statewide mask mandate and said he’ll stand by his promise to keep Florida open for business, even if his plan for fully reopening takes longer than expected.

It’s been 62 days since DeSantis lifted his statewide stay-at-home order.

DeSantis has stressed that deaths are on a generally downward trajectory. Those who have tested positive for the virus in recent days are younger than the vulnerable, elderly demographic more likely to die from COVID-19.

The median age for new coronavirus cases has plummeted in recent weeks from the mid- to late-50s to the early and mid-30s. On Sunday, the median age for cases statewide was 39.

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.

While state officials have pointed to an increase in available testing as the key reason why the number of positive cases has continued to climb in Florida, those arguments have been undermined by a massive increase in the virus’ positivity rate, which continues to climb day after day.

State health officials said Sunday they received results of 69,943 coronavirus tests in the previous 24 hours, 58,080 of them negative.

Still, Sunday’s report confirmed health experts’ warnings that the virus has become easier to catch and quicker to spread.

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Seventeen percent of coronavirus tests collected over the past 7 days have come back positive for the virus, the data shows. Just a day earlier, the seven-day positivity rate was roughly 15 percent.

The average daily positivity rate throughout the end of June was around 10 percent.

A testing rate of 5 percent positive is the threshold set by the World Health Organization for allowing governments, businesses, and other economic drivers to reopen.

The coronavirus pandemic has now claimed more than 530,000 lives worldwide and infected more than 11.2 million people, according to health officials at Johns Hopkins University.

Health officials worldwide agree that the actual numbers are likely much higher because of people who don’t show symptoms, worldwide testing shortages and suspicions that some countries have allowed cases to go unreported.

What’s the picture in Tampa Bay?

An additional 1,775 coronavirus cases were reported on Sunday in the seven counties that make up the Tampa Bay region, records show.

The report contained a grim milestone for Pinellas County, with a record high 14 deaths reported over a 24-hour period. The victims come from many walks of life, but all were 54 to 91, according to the Health Department.

All 14 were living in one of Pinellas County’s nursing homes or assisted living centers when they tested positive for the coronavirus, according to records from the county’s medical examiner. Those centers include Gulf Shore Care Center, Apollo Health & Rehabilitation Center, Walton Place Assisted Living Facility, The Health & Rehabilitation Center at Dolphin View, Highland Pines Rehabilitation Center, Bon Secours Maria Manor, Apollo Nursing Home, Seasons of Belleair Assisted Living Facility, Suncoast Hospice Care Center (North Pinellas and Mid Pinellas), Menorah Manor, Boca Ciega Nursing Home, Sunset Point Nursing Home, Regal Palms Nursing Home, and Jacaranda Manor.

The county’s previous single-day high was 13 deaths reported on June 23, records show. In the four months since the pandemic began, 200 deaths in Pinellas County have been attributed to the virus.

Pinellas County has also continued to lead the region in hospitalizations, with 13 admissions on Sunday. That brings the total number hospitalized in the county since the pandemic began to 757.

Hillsborough County hospitals also reported 13 new admissions Sunday, bringing the county’s total to 684.

In Hillsborough, 153 people have died from the virus. An additional 636 infections were reported Sunday, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 14,336.

Pinellas also saw a surge in infections Sunday, adding 417 for an overall caseload of 8,533.

Elsewhere in the Tampa Bay area, Citrus County reported 378 coronavirus cases and 13 deaths; Hernando 541 cases and 6 deaths; Manatee 3,716 cases and 133 deaths; Pasco 2,757 cases and 25 deaths; and Polk 5,196 cases and 106 deaths.

What’s the picture in Florida’s hospitals?

Florida’s Department of Health reported Sunday that another 53,768 people have been tested for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of people tested to date to 2.2 million.

That means about 9 percent of those tested since the first cases were reported in Florida have tested positive.

Related: Four Pinellas hospitals completely out of ICU beds

Health experts at the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine have advised DeSantis that the state needs to test about 33,000 people per day to stay ahead of the virus.

In all, 16,201 people have been hospitalized due to the coronavirus since Florida reported its first cases March 1. An additional 160 people were admitted to state hospitals with the virus over a 24-hour period, the Sunday figures show.

That means almost 8 percent of all coronavirus patients in Florida end up hospitalized.

The number of patients under 55 who are admitted to emergency rooms with cough-related symptoms has begun to decline after rising near the end of May, the Health Department said.

However, coughing is becoming more common again among people in this group who are over 55.

Overall, the number of emergency room visits for COVID-19 and influenza-like illnesses has been steadily increasing since June 8, records show.

Still, Florida remains within target goals for hospital staffing, the Health Department said.

As of Sunday, the state reported 26 percent availability for hospital beds and 34 percent availability for beds in Florida’s intensive care units.

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