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Florida adds 6,659 coronavirus cases, 98 deaths Monday

Of those, 912 coronavirus infections and 26 deaths were reported in the Tampa Bay area.

Florida added 6,659 coronavirus infections and 98 deaths on Monday, continuing its steady climb toward logging one million cases since the start of the pandemic.

The state’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 999,319, just below the nearly 1.16 million cases recorded in Texas and 1.2 million cases in California. In the past nine months, the Florida Department of Health has added 18,834 coronavirus-related deaths.

With a population of 21.48 million, Monday’s report means that roughly 1 in every 21 Florida residents has now tested positive for COVID-19.

Yet at a press conference Monday at a Kissimmee elementary school, Gov. Ron DeSantis remained adamant that Florida’s economy - and its schools - would remain open for business as most other states scramble to pass additional public health restrictions in hopes of curbing the virus’ spread ahead of the holidays.

In his remarks, DeSantis said the decision to close schools in the early days of the pandemic was “probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American history,” and that those still advocating to keep children home from school to mitigate spread are “effectively today’s flat Earthers. They have no scientific evidence or support for their position.”

By mid-day Monday, Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center showed the overall caseload in the U.S. had risen to nearly 13.45 million and more than 267,300 deaths - the highest totals of any nation in the world. Worldwide, more than 63 million coronavirus cases have been reported, with more than 1.4 million people dying from the disease.

Hospitalizations: The Agency for Health Care Administration reported 4,159 people across Florida were in the hospital with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 — an increase of 161 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours. Roughly 21 percent of those patients were in Tampa Bay area hospitals, which reported a combined 878 coronavirus patients on Monday.

About 27 percent of regular hospital beds statewide and 24 percent of adult beds in Florida’s intensive care units were available for new patients on Monday. In the Tampa Bay area, nearly 25 percent of regular hospital beds and 21 percent of adult ICU beds were empty.

The number of coronavirus infections, deaths and hospitalizations has steadily increased in Florida since October. That’s after a weeks-long plateau of around 2,000 hospitalizations a day this fall. According to state data, the number of coronavirus patients admitted to hospitals in the last two weeks has increased by about 30 percent.

The counties experiencing the most coronavirus hospitalizations has mostly aligned with the number of known infections reported to the state. Miami-Dade led the state with 644 coronavirus patients on Monday, followed by Broward and Palm Beach counties. Hillsborough County’s hospitalizations were the fourth-highest number in the state at 253 active patients, followed by Duval, and Pinellas County’s 200 patients.

Positivity: Florida’s average weekly positivity rate increased slightly to 7.5 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University, which recently changed its metric to align more closely with the Florida Department of Health’s measure.

Still, Florida is one of 45 states above the World Health Organization’s recommended positivity rate of 5 percent or below. A high positivity rate can indicate there’s not enough testing in a given area to capture mild and asymptomatic cases.

According to state data, Florida’s positivity rate for new cases has risen to 8.4 percent, and has ranged from 6.18 percent to 8.75 percent in the last two weeks. Those results come from 87,739 coronavirus tests processed by the state in the last 24 hours.

Local numbers: The Tampa Bay region added 912 coronavirus cases on Monday and 26 deaths.

Hernando, Polk and Pasco counties reported five deaths each, while Polk County saw four deaths and Citrus, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Pinellas all reported three deaths a piece.

Pasco County leads the region with an average weekly positivity rate of about 9.7 percent, followed by Hernando at 9.64 percent, Citrus at 9.14 percent, Hillsborough at 7.19 percent, Polk at 7.16 percent, Manatee at 6.34 percent and Pinellas at 5.69 percent.

As of the latest counts, Hillsborough has 58,293 cases and 937 deaths, Pinellas has 33,058 cases and 906 deaths, Polk has 27,611 cases and 680 deaths, Manatee has 16,860 cases and 378 deaths, Pasco has 14,899 cases and 278 deaths, Hernando has 5,005 cases and 217 deaths, and Citrus has 4,753 cases and 172 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

HOW CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING IN FLORIDA: Find the latest numbers for your county, city or zip code.

FACE MASKS: Read the latest on guidelines, tips for comfort and long-term wear

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THE CORONAVIRUS SCRAPBOOK: We collected your stories, pictures, songs, recipes, journals and more to show what life has been like during the pandemic.

A TRIBUTE TO THE FLORIDIANS TAKEN BY THE CORONAVIRUS: They were parents and retirees, police officer and doctors, imperfect but loved deeply.

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