Florida added a record-high number of coronavirus deaths Thursday, announcing 173 more fatalities and bringing the overall death toll from the virus up to 5,632.
The weekly death average also continued to rise, reaching 121 people per day.
The Tampa Bay area added 1,300 infections and 55 deaths on Thursday. Most of those cases came out of Hillsborough County.
Florida logged 10,249 coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the total recorded since March to 389,868 cases. The percentage of positive tests added Thursday was 12 percent. Hospitalizations rose by 403 admissions. About six percent of all coronavirus cases in Florida have resulted in hospitalization.
How fast is the number of Florida COVID-19 cases growing?
What’s the picture statewide?
The youngest person to die from COVID-19 in Florida was announced Wednesday: a 9-year-old girl in Putnam County, according to the Florida Department of Health. On the same day, Gov. Ron DeSantis stressed how important it is for children to return to school in person, but that parents and teachers should have the ability to choose.
The average caseload per day has held steadily above 11,000 infections this week.
Florida’s weekly average percentage of positive tests remained at 19 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the impact of the virus globally. Where Florida had previously been the second highest state, it’s now sixth for percentage of positive tests, according to the university. That’s still far above the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 5 percent. Higher rates indicate that testing isn’t widespread enough.
The Florida Department of Health calculates the positivity rate, or the percentage of total tests coming back positive, differently by counting negative retests but not positive retests. According to the state, the average weekly positivity is about 12 percent.
Testing has been irregular in Florida, with the state sometimes logging more than 100,000 tests processed one day and 50,000 on other days.
Health experts have warned that people who have already tested negative should not get tested again unless they experience symptoms or work in a high-risk environment. Additional testing is adding to the overall backlog.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have also steadily risen in July. About 21 percent of hospital beds and 16 percent of intensive care unit beds are available across the state. In the Tampa Bay area, 18 percent of hospital beds and 11 percent of ICU beds are open, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Just under 9,500 people are in the hospital with a primary diagnosis of coronavirus as of Thursday, according to ACHA. About 1,700 of them are in the Tampa Bay, with the bulk in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?
What’s the picture in Tampa Bay?
The Tampa Bay area added 1,300 infections and 55 deaths on Thursday.
In the past week, Hillsborough County has averaged about 13 percent of new tests coming back positive. The county with the highest weekly average positivity in the area is Polk, which has about 14 percent of new test results coming back positive.
Pinellas County had 22 deaths on Thursday, which leads the Tampa Bay area in deaths from the virus despite having more than 10,000 fewer cases than Hillsborough. About 69 percent of deaths in Pinellas are tied to long-term care facilities.
Hillsborough County added 18 deaths, Pasco had six, and there were three each in Manatee, Hernando and Polk counties.
Deaths ranged in age from 49- to 99-years-old, a mix of men and women. The median age was about 79-years-old.
As of the latest counts, Hillsborough has 25,432 cases and 282 deaths; Pinellas has 14,371 cases and 366 deaths; Polk has 10,545 cases and 204 deaths; Manatee has 7,252 cases and 154 deaths; Pasco has 5,363 cases and 66 deaths; Hernando has 1,296 cases and 20 deaths; and Citrus has 954 cases and 18 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.
Why are there so many deaths?
Unlike states like Washington and New York, Florida’s rise in deaths came later, in June rather than in March and April when the pandemic was just taking hold. Deaths really began to balloon in July.
Dr. Marissa Levine, a professor of public health and family medicine at the University of South Florida, said Florida’s stay-at-home order from the spring was effective. With people staying home, the chances that coronavirus could spread was limited.
But since DeSantis began reopening the state in May, cases started to rise again.
“The message that was interpreted by a lot of the public was we reopened so we can go back to normal,” Levine said. “We needed to do something really differently to prevent this wave.”
Levine said in order for the cases to begin coming down, people need to change their behavior. People should still be wearing masks and social distancing.
“As we see mobility go down we see cases go down, and we also see everything else that follows cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” she said.
Levine also pointed out that the average age of new positive cases is getting older. Though young people were initially the bulk of new cases seen after the state began to reopen, the infection continues to affect older populations the most.
“We cant let our guard down now,” Levine said.
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