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Florida’s coronavirus cases shot up again. So now deaths have, too.

Analysis: Though more testing means higher case numbers, the overall trend was clear.
People in their cars make their way through the line at the COVID-19 testing site located at Tropicana Field, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 in St. Petersburg.
People in their cars make their way through the line at the COVID-19 testing site located at Tropicana Field, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Dec. 10, 2020
Updated Dec. 10, 2020

More and more people are dying from COVID-19 in Florida, again, just as expected.

In the fall, new coronavirus cases started rebounding in the state. By mid-October, rising cases led to more people in Florida’s hospitals.

“If we don’t see a change in trajectory, we could see a very difficult time coming forward,” Tampa General Hospital COVID-19 care head Dr. Andrew Myers told the Times more than a month ago.

Rises in people testing positive, ending up in the hospital, and now dying: the natural progression of the outbreak is the same pattern that played out this summer.

As of yet, there are no signs of the trend changing course.

In the first week of December, the state counted 695 new COVID-19 deaths, about 100 per day. That death toll is twice as high as it was just last month. November’s first week saw only about 50 deaths a day.

The rise in deaths is expected to continue, until cases and hospitalizations reverse course.

As of now, about 4,400 Floridians are hospitalized with the disease, twice as many as six weeks ago.

Compared to the summer peak, hospitals are now treating about half as many COVID-19 patients as they were then.

Hospital leaders in Miami, the state’s pandemic epicenter, told the Miami Herald they are bracing for a surge that may last weeks or months, yet they don’t expect it to get as bad as it did in July.

This pattern is not confined to a certain region. Forty-eight of the state’s 67 counties are reporting more people in the hospital now than a month ago. Forty-two are reporting more dead.

Overall, Florida is testing significantly more than it did during the summer, and total positive cases have rebounded more than the number of people in the hospital. That is good news — it means catching more people with no symptoms, or mild ones, rather than letting them unwittingly infect others.

As testing capacity has expanded, Tampa Bay officials noted that some testing sites are reaching their limits and new locations are opening to meet demand.

This massive increase in testing capacity isn’t stopping the steady rise in cases.

But even with the increased testing, the overall, steady rise in cases for more than two months was an unmistakable warning. The virus was spreading. More deaths would come.

And now, here they are.

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This is a weekly series examining Florida’s coronavirus data. Send questions or suggestions to ltaylor@tampabay.com. We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.