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After two-day decline, coronavirus deaths surge past 7,500 on Tuesday

The state logged 5,446 cases on Tuesday, bringing the number of overall infections to 497,330 and deaths to 7,526.
Today's state report was the third-highest death toll seen in a single day since Florida’s coronavirus outbreak began March 1 and the fourth to surpass 200 since the pandemic began.
Today's state report was the third-highest death toll seen in a single day since Florida’s coronavirus outbreak began March 1 and the fourth to surpass 200 since the pandemic began. [ Times ]
Published Aug. 4, 2020|Updated Aug. 5, 2020

The Florida Department of Health added 247 coronavirus deaths Tuesday, a sharp rise after a two-day lull.

It’s the third-highest death toll seen in a single day since Florida’s coronavirus outbreak began March 1 and the fourth to surpass 200 since the pandemic began. Tuesday’s report brings the state’s total number of fatalities to 7,526 people. The 247 deaths recorded Tuesday is more than Sunday’s and Monday’s death tolls combined.

Tuesday’s report also logged another 5,446 coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases in Florida to 497,330. The Tampa Bay area added 812 new cases Tuesday and 64 deaths.

The numbers reported each day by the Florida Department of Health don’t necessarily represent new cases that happened over a 24-hour period. Testing delays means some cases are reported over the span of several days.

But the increase in deaths isn’t unexpected. Public health experts have warned that reports of deaths lag behind new cases by several weeks. New infections in Florida have been spiking since mid-June. Florida reported more than three times as many coronavirus deaths in July as in June.

According to the latest numbers, about one in every 41 people in Florida has been infected by the coronavirus.

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

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What’s the picture statewide?

Last week was the deadliest recorded since Florida health officials began tracking the coronavirus more than five months ago. There were 1,312 deaths reported in a seven-day span.

Coronavirus testing has slowed across the state, with many state-run testing centers temporarily shutting down over the weekend in anticipation of Tropical Storm Isaias.

And when coupled with sluggish turnaround time for test results from many of the state’s private labs, health officials say the process could be a key element in the recent plateauing of new cases.

Just 56,533 people were tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to health officials, which is fewer than the 87,974 tests recorded on Sunday and 60,993 on Monday. That’s a decline in testing not seen since the Fourth of July holiday.

Still, the daily positivity rate — the percentage of positive results of all tests processed that day — bounced back to nearly 11 percent on Tuesday after two consecutive days below Florida’s target 10 percent threshold.

Since March 1, state health officials have tested 3.8 million people — about 18 percent of Florida’s population.

Related: Ron DeSantis floats policies that would allow for nursing home visits

By Tuesday afternoon, the coronavirus had infected nearly 18.4 million people across the globe and killed 695,848 globally, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University. By far, the United States has become the epicenter of the world’s pandemic, with more than 4.7 million confirmed cases and more than 155,000 fatalities tied to COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the virus.

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Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

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What’s the picture in Tampa Bay?

The seven counties that make up the Tampa Bay area reported 812 cases on Tuesday and 64 deaths tied to COVID-19.

Twenty-one of those deaths occurred in Hillsborough County: eight women ranging in age from 41 to 93, and 13 men ranging in age from 50 to 84.

The youngest Tampa Bay area fatality reported on Tuesday was a 27-year-old woman in Citrus County. Citrus County also saw the death of a 100-year-old woman, 95-year-old man and an 83-year-old woman.

Another 100-year-old woman was among the 18 deaths reported in Pinellas County on Tuesday, which also included nine men ages 60 to 88 and nine women ages 65 to 100.

Hernando County reported four fatalities on Tuesday: two women, ages 67 and 92, and two men, ages 82 and 85. Two people died in Pasco County, a 78-year-old man and a 75-year-old woman, and Polk County reported 15 deaths: six women, ages 68 to 89, and 9 men, ages 59 to 90.

Hillsborough County saw its caseload grow to 30,798 — an increase of 348 people testing positive for the virus. Since March 1, the county has reported 374 deaths.

Elsewhere in the area, Citrus County reported an overall 1,322 cases and 34 deaths; Hernando County reported 1,802 cases and 38 deaths; Manatee reported 8,887 cases and 189 deaths; Pasco reported 6,636 cases and 102 deaths; Pinellas reported 17,047 cases and 462 deaths; and Polk County reported 13,231 cases and 287 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 in hospitals and health care facilities?

Hospitalizations increased by 589 admissions on Tuesday, bringing the total number of coronavirus patients treated since the pandemic began to 28,333.

The number of people being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals statewide continued a nearly two-week downward trajectory, with 7,797 patients as of Tuesday, from 7,991 the day before and down from highs of more than 9,500 about two weeks ago, according to the health department.

But in hard-hit Hillsborough County, the number of available beds in adult intensive care units plummeted to about 3 percent, with only 12 of 377 adult ICU beds available for new patients after 22 new coronavirus patients were admitted Monday, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

In Pinellas County, 29 of 258 adult ICU beds were available Tuesday afternoon, roughly 10 percent capacity after 26 new admissions in the last 24 hours.

But Florida’s long-term health care facilities were on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mind Tuesday, during a round table discussion on the virus held in Jacksonville. DeSantis spoke of his desire to find a “pathway to get families access” to the roughly 1.5 million people who have been isolated in Florida’s nursing homes and senior care facilities since the pandemic began.

Even though residents have remained isolated for months, the coronavirus has spread rapidly throughout Florida’s long-term care facilities. In July alone, the state reported more than 1,100 deaths in such facilities.

The number of residents testing positive for COVID-19 was about 5,800 and the total number of deaths hit 3,155 on Tuesday.

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

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