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Florida adds record-high coronavirus deaths with 277 Tuesday

The state also recorded 5,831 new infections.

Florida logged a new record for the most coronavirus deaths announced in a day with 277 on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s record brought the statewide death toll to 8,685 people, according to the Florida Department of Health. The weekly death average increased to 166 people dead per day.

The previous high was 257 deaths on July 31, according to the health department.

Florida added 5,831 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total to 542,792 cases since the pandemic began. The Tampa Bay area added 797 new coronavirus cases and 44 deaths Tuesday.

The number of tests processed statewide decreased some to 67,000. Hospitalizations increased by 573 admissions.

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

What’s the picture statewide?

Florida’s average number of new cases was trending down for more than two weeks until Tuesday. In the past four days, the numbers have been at their lowest point since late June.

But testing still remains irregular. Some days the Florida Department of Health announced more than 100,000 tests processed over the last two weeks, while other days had fewer than 60,000.

There was a three-day slump in testing around Hurricane Isaias, which caused state-run facilities in South Florida and other East Coast counties to close.

The state’s positivity rate, or the percentage of positive results among all tests processed, has remained far above the World Health Organization recommendation. As of Tuesday, the average percentage of tests coming back positive was about 17 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Months ago, the World Health Organization set a recommendation that communities maintain a 5 percent positivity rate for two weeks or longer before loosening social distancing restrictions.

The positivity rate is a helpful metric to understand if an area is doing enough testing. But if the rate is too high, it likely means only the sickest people have access to testing.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier this summer that he feels that hospitalizations are the best indicator of the current level of disease spread in the community.

Across Florida, about 6,900 people are in the hospital with a primary diagnosis of coronavirus, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. About 1,000 are in Tampa Bay.

That number has been steadily declining over the past few weeks, down from a peak of about 9,500. The agency only started releasing hospitalization data in early July, and still doesn’t disclose all the information they collect, according to the Miami Herald.

About 25 percent of hospital beds and 20 percent of intensive care unit beds are open statewide. In Tampa, about 21 percent of hospital beds and 15 percent of ICU beds are open.

Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

What’s the picture in Tampa Bay?

The Tampa Bay region added 797 coronavirus cases and 44 deaths Tuesday.

The most deaths were recorded in Pinellas County, with 13. Pinellas has one of the highest death rates in the state at about 3 percent.

Polk County added 12 deaths, while Manatee and Hillsborough counties both added seven, Hernando and Pasco both added two and Citrus County added one.

The deaths ranged in age from 53- to 96-years-old. A 33-year-old man in Manatee County died from the virus. Younger deaths are rare, but not uncommon if the person had existing health issues like diabetes or obesity.

The average positivity rate for counties in the region dropped some, with Pinellas and Manatee having the lowest at 5 percent. Pasco’s positivity rate was 6 percent, while Hillsborough’s was 8 percent. Polk County leads the area with an 11 percent average positivity rate.

As of the latest counts, Hillsborough has 32,996 cases and 400 deaths; Pinellas has 18,103 cases and 515 deaths; Polk has 14,645 cases and 327 deaths; Manatee has 9,395 cases and 236 deaths; Pasco has 7,172 cases and 132 deaths; Hernando has 2,069 cases and 51 deaths; and Citrus has 1,594 cases and 37 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.

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

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