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Florida adds 5,558 coronavirus cases, the highest daily record since August

Excluding two days with data irregularities, Florida added the highest number of coronavirus cases since August 15 on Thursday.

Florida added 5,558 coronavirus cases Thursday, the highest number recorded in a single day since August 15, excluding two days where health officials noted irregularities in reporting.

Thursday’s caseload brings the total number of infections recorded statewide to 768,091, according to the Florida Department of Health. The weekly average number of cases jumped to about 3,300 cases per day. Thursday also showed higher levels of testing than usual, with more than 100,000 tests processed.

The state also added 57 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the weekly death average down to about 77 people announced dead per day. On Wednesday, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said the health department would implement an additional review of coronavirus deaths, though it wasn’t immediately clear what the new review policy would entail or how it would affect the state’s daily reports.

Across Florida, 16,470 people have died from the virus since March.

The two irregular days occurred when Quest Diagnostics unloaded a backlog of 75,000 tests to the health department on Sept. 1 and when the state failed to issue a report on Oct. 10, pushing two day’s worth of information into the next day.

Hospitalizations: About 2,100 people in Florida are hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of coronavirus, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. About 460 of those are hospitalized in the Tampa Bay area.

Statewide, about 24 percent of hospital beds and 23 percent of intensive care unit beds were available Thursday. In Tampa Bay, about 21 percent of hospital beds and 19 percent of ICU beds were available.

Cases that led to a hospitalization increased by 141 admissions.

Related: Hillsborough continues face mask rule as coronavirus cases climb

Positivity: Florida’s average weekly positivity rate is about 12 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The Florida Department of Health, which calculates positivity by counting negative retests and not positive retests, determined the positivity rate to be about 5 percent.

When positivity is too high, it can indicate there isn’t enough widespread testing to capture mild and asymptomatic cases. The World Health Organization recommends at 5 percent positivity rate or below for two weeks before reopening.

Local numbers: Tampa Bay added 1,011 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths Thursday.

Seven deaths were recorded in Pinellas County, three were in Hernando and one was in Manatee. There were no new deaths reported in Hillsborough, Polk or Pasco counties.

Polk leads the area with the highest average weekly positivity rate at 7 percent, followed by Hillsborough at 6 percent and every other area county at 5 percent.

As of the latest counts, Hillsborough has 46,300 cases and 760 deaths; Pinellas has 24,650 cases and 816 deaths; Polk has 22,256 cases and 595 deaths; Manatee has 12,761 cases and 326 deaths; Pasco has 10,406 cases and 228 deaths; Hernando has 3,531 cases and 166 deaths; and Citrus has 3,091 cases and 131 deaths.

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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