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Florida reports another 6,336 coronavirus cases Monday, 48 more deaths

Health officials warn that the virus is becoming easier to catch as the rate of positive cases hits 17 percent.

After a Fourth of July weekend that saw novel coronavirus infections surge, Florida health officials reported 6,336 infections on Monday — bringing the total to 206,447.

Since the Department of Health released its Sunday update, the state has attributed 48 more deaths to COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the virus. The virus has killed 3,880 people in Florida since health officials logged the first infection March 1.

According to Monday’s report, an additional 151 residents were hospitalized, raising the total to 16,352.

Florida’s mounting deaths increased the state’s seven-day average to 48 lives lost per day, the highest since early May.

Over the past seven days, the number of coronavirus cases grew by 59,036, records show. That’s the highest number of cases Florida has reported over a one-week period since the pandemic began.

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

What’s the picture in Tampa Bay?

The seven counties that make up the Tampa Bay area recorded 1,042 cases Monday and 23 deaths, ages 51 to 91.

Both Hillsborough and Polk county reported nine deaths, Pasco reported two and Hernando, Manatee, and Pinellas one each.

Hillsborough continues to lead most of the state in coronavirus patients. On Monday, Hillsborough reported 162 deaths and 14,677 cases — the fourth-highest caseload among Florida’s 67 counties.

Pinellas County has reported 201 deaths and 8,759 cases since the pandemic began.

Elsewhere in the area, Citrus County reported 399 coronavirus cases and 13 deaths; Hernando 557 cases and seven deaths; Manatee 3,785 cases and 134 deaths; Pasco 2,850 cases and 27 deaths; and Polk 5,472 cases and 115 deaths.

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

What’s the picture statewide?

In the four months since the pandemic hit Florida, 2.2 million people have been tested for the virus, and on Friday, the state reported a record 85,076 tests in one day.

On Sunday, the Florida Department of Health received 44,627 test results, 36,930 of them negative for the coronavirus and 7,697 positive.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials point to the increased availability of testing across the state as the reason why the number of positive returns continues to climb. The state is currently averaging 45,000 tests per day — nearly double last month’s testing rate.

DeSantis said Monday he believes coronavirus cases in the state have “stabilized.”

But when analyzing the virus’ spread, health experts often look to the “positivity rate,” or what percentage of those tested show positive results. As the number of people tested goes up, the positivity rate should go down if the spread is slowing.

In Florida, despite ramped-up testing efforts, records show that’s not the case.

On Sunday, the daily positivity rate for first-time tests was just under 15 percent — a 5 percent increase over the 10 percent reported through the end of June.

For all tests given in Florida since the start of the pandemic, the positivity rate is about 17 percent. Over the most recent 14-day period, the number is 18.5 percent — four times higher than it was last month.

That puts Florida second only to Arizona, with a 25.6 percent positivity rate. The figure far exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommendation that local governments maintain a positivity rate of 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days before reopening.

A high positivity rate may indicate a state is only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention, and not casting a wide enough net to know how the virus is spreading within communities, according to a statement from the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.

A low rate of positivity can indicate a state has sufficient testing capacity and is testing enough people “to make informed decisions about reopening,” the center said.

Twenty-five states meet this threshold, led by Connecticut and Vermont with positivity rates less than 1 percent. Next is New York at 1.1 percent, no longer the nation’s coronavirus hot spot.

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 picture in Florida’s hospitals?

In April, when Florida began gradually allowing governments, businesses, and other economic drivers to reopen, the state appeared to have nearly flattened the upward trend line. Caseloads were decreasing, as was the positivity rate, and hospitals reported more beds opening up for COVID-19 patients.

Then bars and barbershops began welcoming back customers and protesters took to the streets in response to the death of George Floyd on May 25 while in Minneapolis police custody.

From June 23 to July 5, hospitalizations for coronavirus saw an 88 percent increase, from 818 to 1,538, according to state data. The number of patients on ventilators and in intensive care nearly doubled.

According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, Florida’s hospitals had 24 percent of their regular beds available and 20 percent of beds in intensive care units.

Availability at medical centers equipped with a pediatric intensive care unit was 55 percent in Hillsborough and 5 percent in Pinellas, the only counties equipped with the unites in the Tampa Bay area.

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

HOW CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING IN FLORIDA: Find the latest numbers for your county, city or zip code.

THE CORONAVIRUS SCRAPBOOK: We collected your stories, pictures, songs, recipes, journals and more to show what life has been like during the pandemic.

SO YOU WANT TO LEAVE YOUR HOUSE? Read these 10 tips first

UNEMPLOYMENT Q&A: We answer your questions about Florida unemployment benefits

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