On the eve of bar reopenings in Florida following a statewide shutdown in June, Sunday’s update from the Department of Health showed a dramatic drop in the number of deaths from coronavirus.
Statewide, eight deaths were tied to the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, according to Sunday’s report — the smallest daily increase since June 15.
The number of coronavirus infections reported each day is also on a downward trend, though the numbers show a more gradual decline. Sunday’s update showed 2,423 new coronavirus infections in the last 24hours. Last Sunday, the daily number was 2,564 and the Sunday before, on Aug. 30, the state reported 2,583 new infections.
Since the first infections in Florida were announced to the public on March 1, state health officials have logged a total of 663,994 coronavirus infections and 12,764 deaths from the virus.
This means that roughly 1 in every 31 people in Florida has now tested positive for the virus, records show. The state is averaging 109 coronavirus-related deaths per day, down from Saturday’s weekly average of about 113 deaths per day. That average peaked in early August with 185 people dead per day.
By noon Sunday, Florida’s hospitals were treating 2,635 patients with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the coronavirus, according to the Agency for Healthcare Administration.
Sunday brought an increase of 82 COVID-19 hospital patients over Saturday’s report. Eight of them were in the Tampa Bay region, with one in Citrus County, three in Hillsborough, one in Manatee and three in Pinellas.
In all, Tampa Bay area hospitals were treating 457 coronavirus patients Sunday.
About 28 percent of hospital beds and 24 percent of ICU beds are open, and in Tampa Bay, about 27 percent of hospital beds and 22 percent of ICU beds are open. One local hospital — Springbrook in Hernando County — reported hospital beds were at capacity on Sunday. That’s a welcome change after weeks where some of the largest hospitals in the region, including Tampa General Hospital and Morton Plant Hospital, had reported few or no hospital beds available.
Intensive care unit beds, however, remained in short supply.
Since the start of the pandemic, Florida’s hospitals have treated 41,769 coronavirus patients. The Tampa Bay area accounts for 8,122 of those hospitalizations — 260 in Citrus County, 380 in Hernando, 1,777 in Hillsborough, 780 in Manatee, 774 in Pasco, 2,186 in Pinellas and 1,965 in Polk.
The peak of hospitalizations came in mid-July, with just under 10,000 people seeking treatment.
Florida’s average weekly positivity is about 12.8 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The Florida Department of Health calculates positivity by counting negative retests but not positive ones, putting more emphasis on the negative results. Based on its calculations, the average weekly positivity rate is about 5 percent and on Sunday it was 4.4 percent.
When positivity is high, it can indicate there isn’t enough testing in an area to capture mild cases. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 5 percent positivity for two weeks for safer reopening.
On Thursday, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced that bars would be allowed to reopen on Monday, Sept. 14, at 50 percent capacity. Those businesses were shuttered statewide in June following a sudden surge in coronavirus infections.
On of the eight coronavirus-related deaths reported by the state on Sunday came from the Tampa Bay region — an 81-year-old man in Hillsborough County.
The seven counties that make up the Tampa Bay area reported an additional 430 coronavirus cases on Sunday, with a high count of 152 in Hillsborough.
As of the latest counts, Citrus County has reported 2,469 cases and 72 deaths, Hernando has 2,884 cases and 106 deaths, Hillsborough has 39,450 cases and 591 deaths, Manatee has 10,886 cases and 277 deaths, Pasco has 8,527 cases and 196 deaths, Pinellas has 20,922 cases and 704 deaths, and Polk County has 18,473 cases and 491 deaths.
Polk County leads the area with the highest average weekly positivity rate at about 7 percent, followed by Hillsborough at 6 percent, Citrus at 5 percent, Hernando at 4 percent and Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas at 3 percent.
How fast is the number of Florida COVID-19 cases growing?
Is Florida’s coronavirus outbreak still growing?
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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