Florida counts 12,624 coronavirus infections on Monday, 35 deaths

The Florida Department of Health’s daily case count on Monday was 12,624 — bringing the state’s total number of coronavirus infections to 282,435.
Don Germiase, left and Josiah Smith right, pass gallons of milk to load into a trunk during drive-through food pantry operation at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa on Friday, July 10, 2020.
Don Germiase, left and Josiah Smith right, pass gallons of milk to load into a trunk during drive-through food pantry operation at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa on Friday, July 10, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published July 13, 2020|Updated July 13, 2020

TAMPA — After setting a nationwide record for most cases ever reported in a single day on Sunday, the number of novel coroanvirus infections in Florida continued to soar Monday.

The Florida Department of Health received 12,624 test results on Monday positive for COVID-19, the pernicious respiratory infection caused by the coronavirus. Until Sunday, that daily caseload would have broken previous records for total cases reported in a single day.

On Sunday, Florida shocked the globe by recording 15,300 infections in a 24-hour span.

The spike in cases came on the same day that nearly 100,000 test results, both positive and negative, were reported by the Florida Department of Health. The high number of test results, which are nearly 50 percent higher than on any day prior, can be traced back to a single testing company, GENETWORx, which reported over 50,000 new results on Sunday, according to state data.

Florida’s health officials are now tracking 282,435 coronavirus infections - a higher caseload than all but nine countries, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

State health officials also reported another 35 casualties to the virus on Monday, bringing Florida’s death toll to 4,381. But to the north, there was a glimmer of hope for the nation’s former coronavirus hotspot. For the first time in four months, New York did not report a single fatality on Monday.

State health experts assured the public on Monday that Florida could soon be in New York’s shoes. Monday’s report also heralded a record-high number of test results received in one day, along with a third-day decline in the positivity rate for new cases.

“This is a different epidemic than hit New York,” Dr. Charles Lockwood, dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine, told CNN’s John King during a Monday afternoon broadcast. “We have a much younger population being diagnosed, and we’re much better prepared.”

“But we are spreading, there’s no doubt about it,” Lockwood cautioned. “The test positive rate had been at 3 percent at one point and now it’s at 11 percent or so.”

Nationwide, the number of coronavirus cases surpassed 3.3 million on Monday, meaning about 1 percent of the American population has tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began at the start of the new year.

At least 135,379 people have died from the virus while in the United States.

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

What’s the picture statewide?

While the world looked at Florida’s coronavirus caseload in alarm on Sunday, state health officials said the positive results were plucked from an equally record-breaking number of test results.

Staff at the Florida Department of Health received 112,264 test results in the 24 hours before the release of Monday’s updated report. which means the more than 12,000 infections reported Monday represents just under 13 percent of Sunday’s haul.

When looking only at those who had been tested for the first time, though, the positivity rate was 11.5 percent

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That’s less than the 18.35 percent positivity rates Florida reported last week, but still above the state’s target of 10 percent positivity, as well as the World Health Organization’s recommendation that local governments maintain a positivity rate of 5 percent or lower for a minimum 14 days before reopening.

Since March 1, the day state health officials announced Florida’s first coroanvirus cases, roughly 2.57 million Floridians have been tested for the virus — about 12 percent of the state’s population, the state health department said.

On Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis pointed to the slowly descending positivity rates seen in the latest batches of test results as a sign the virus could be hitting a “plateau."

“We increased from the end of June into July, but it’s been plateaued for the last two weeks, which is a good sign,” DeSantis said during Saturday’s press conference. “We’d rather be plateaued at 4 percent, but we didn’t want to see it continue to just go up and up.”

As recently as July 8, the state’s positivity rate was about 20 percent, records show. But at one point, in early April, that rate dwindled as low as 3 percent.

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

What’s the picture in Tampa Bay?

According to Monday’s report, Tampa ranks third out of all cities in the state in confirmed coronavirus cases with12,257. Miami continues to claim the most coronavirus infections in the state, with 41,404 as of Monday. Orlando ranks second with 14,135.

The seven-county Tampa Bay area reported 2,078 cases and 12 deaths Monday. Seven of those deaths were in Pinellas County, where the death toll now stands at 238. Two deaths were in Manatee, and one each was reported in Citrus, Pasco and Polk counties.

Hillsborough County, which has reported 191 coronavirus-related deaths since the state announced its first case on March 1, saw its caseload grow to 19,828 — an increase of 678 infections on Monday. Pinellas County recorded 598 cases, bringing its total caseload to 11,442.

Elsewhere in the area, Citrus County reported 577 cases and 15 deaths; Hernando County reported 909 cases and nine deaths; Manatee reported 5,266 cases and 142 deaths; Pasco reported 4,060 cases and 30 deaths; and Polk reported 7,630 cases and 142 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.

What’s the picture for Florida’s patients?

Florida’s median age for coronavirus patients has hovered in the mid- to late-30s since the beginning of June, when DeSantis announced a sudden demographic shift away from older patients that had characterized the pandemic for months.

Cases began to soar throughout the state as the average age for coronavirus patients continued to get younger — a phenomenon DeSantis and the state’s health agency have turned into a positive when speaking on the virus.

Younger patients are generally less at risk for experiencing the most serious symptoms of COVID-19, USF’s Dr. Lockwood said. As of Monday, Florida’s fatality rate had plummeted to about 1.5 percent of all cases - one of the lowest in the country.

“A lot of that is reflective of the younger population of patients,” Lockwood said on CNN. “Most of the folks we’re diagnosing are between the ages of 15 and 44. Most of the people in the hospitals and the ICUs are between the ages of 55 and 85.”

But in recent days, that low death rate has begun to creep slowly upward. Since June 10, Lockwood said, the number of coroanvirus cases tracked by the state has increased more than five-fold, the number of hospitalizations have risen roughly 3-fold, and the number of deaths roughly 2.5-fold.

Health officials throughout the state agree that coronavirus-related admissions are up, but while hospital staff have been busy, they’re not overwhelmed yet.

Hospitals have admitted 18,817 patients with the virus since Florida’s pandemic began March 1 - an increase of 227 admissions over yesterday’s total, the state health department said. And by publication Monday evening, the Agency for Health Care Administration reported that 8,051 were currently being treated for the virus in Florida’s hospitals.

Combined, Florida’s Intensive Care Units had only 18.6 percent of their beds free for new patients, according to the AHCA. At least 51 of Florida’s Intensive Care Units were operating at full capacity.

On Saturday, DeSantis asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide 1,500 additional nurses to help staff Florida’s struggling hospitals. Until those extra hands arrive, the governor pledged Saturday to direct available nursing staff to hospitals in Miami-Dade County and the Tampa Bay area.

What’s the picture for the nation’s former hotspots?

As state coroanvirus numbers began to trickle in Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that people traveling to his state from Florida will be fined $2,000 if they don’t provide contact information to authorities when they arrive.

“Out-of-state travelers from high-COVID states must provide contact information upon arrival,” Cuomo said in a tweet. “If you fail to provide it, you will receive a summons with a $2K fine,” the tweet reads.

“We’re serious about enforcing quarantine.”

New York is requiring travelers from 19 states, including Florida, to self-quarantine after they arrive. DeSantis required the same of travelers from New York when that state was a hot spot near the start of coronavirus spread in the United States.

The other states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

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