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Florida reports lowest daily coronavirus caseload in months

The Florida Department of Health reported 1,885 cases and 68 virus-related deaths on Monday.

TAMPA — In the last 24 hours, the Florida Department of Health reported 1,885 new coronavirus infections and 68 deaths tied to the virus.

That’s the first time in more than two months that fewer than 2,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 over a 24-hour period, records show. It continues a pattern of shrinking caseloads and declining death tolls that has held for roughly six weeks across the state.

However, the state processed less than 40,000 test results Sunday, which is an unusually small number. Some days over the summer months, the state would process 100,000 tests in a day. State health officials also caution that daily counts are frequently below average on Sundays and Mondays because not all hospitals and health officials work over the weekends.

The 14 additional deaths reported Monday brings the total number of fatalities tied to the coronavirus to 11,331 since Florida’s first cases were announced on March 1. Since then, 623,471 people have now become infected by the coronavirus in Florida.

Nationwide, the U.S. topped 6 million coronavirus infections on Monday and has added more than 183,000 deaths in the last seven months.

Positivity: The state’s daily positivity rate was 5.52 percent — slightly higher than the day before, but still below the state’s goal of maintaining a steady rate no higher than 10 percent before moving forward with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ phased reopening plan.

Most national guidelines, including those set by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, call for positivity rates to remain at 5 percent or lower before rolling back restrictions.

In the past month, Florida has seen a dramatic decline in the coronavirus’ positivity rate, or the percentage of tests that come back positive for the virus out of all tests processed. But that figure also reflects an overall decrease in the volume of testing conducted by the state, and has been used by health officials to gauge whether enough tests are being performed to capture mild and asymptomatic infections within a community.

The state’s average weekly positivity rate was about 12.3 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University. The Florida Department of Health calculates the positivity rate differently by counting negative retests but not positive retests. Based on their metrics, the average weekly positivity is 6 percent.

Hospitalizations: The Agency for Health Care Administration reported that Florida’s hospitals had 3,738 patients admitted with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 on Monday. A majority of those patients were located in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, a region that’s been the epicenter of Florida’s pandemic. In Tampa Bay, there were 609 patients.

About 27 percent of Florida’s hospital beds and nearly 25 percent of all intensive care unit beds were available for new patients. In Tampa Bay hospitals, about 26 percent of all patient beds and 23 percent of all ICU beds were open on Monday.

Statewide, Florida reported 85 more hospitalizations on Monday than the day before.

Local Numbers: The Tampa Bay region reported 336 coronavirus infections Monday, as well as 19 deaths.

Among those fatalities, the youngest was a 27-year-old man who died in Pinellas County. Other Pinellas deaths reported on Monday include four men, ages 41, 69, 83 and 94, and three women, ages 69, 75 and 84.

Pasco County reported six coronavirus-related deaths in Monday’s update, including three women ages 58, 64 and 81, two men ages 69 and 72, and one 75-year-old person whose gender was listed as “unknown” by the state health department.

Hillsborough County reported four deaths: two women, ages 76 and 79, and two men, ages 80 and 83. And Polk County reported the death of a 77-year-old woman.

Hillsborough County saw the biggest daily caseload in the Tampa Bay area, with 123 new cases. That brings the county’s overall caseload to 37,136 infections and 556 deaths since Florida’s pandemic began.

Elsewhere in the area, Citrus County reported 2,095 cases and 57 deaths since the coronavirus outbreak began in March; Hernando County reported 2,615 cases and 84 deaths; Manatee reported 10,426 cases and 260 deaths; Pasco reported 8,048 cases and 181 deaths; Pinellas reported 19,929 cases and 660 deaths; and Polk County reported 17,011 cases and 446 deaths.

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

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Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?

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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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