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Florida adds 15,314 COVID cases, 944 deaths in past week

The Florida Hospital Association has declared the state’s delta-fueled surge “over” as cases, hospitalizations, deaths continue to fall.
Florida's weekly coronavirus numbers.
Florida's weekly coronavirus numbers. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and KINFAY MOROTI | Times ] ]
Published Oct. 22
Updated Oct. 23

Florida reports 15,314 coronavirus cases over the seven-day period from Oct. 15-21, an average of about 2,200 infections per day. The data released Friday shows a 22 percent drop in cases from the week before and the lowest weekly infection rate since late June.

The latest tally brings the total number of cases up to 3,635,126 since the pandemic’s first two cases in Florida were reported nearly 20 months ago on March 1, 2020.

Related: DeSantis plans to call a special legislative session on vaccine mandates

The state added 944 deaths since the previous week’s report. This brings the total statewide number of pandemic deaths to 58,803. Most of these deaths occurred more than one weeks ago, as it can take officials two weeks or more to confirm COVID-related deaths. The report indicates that 106 deaths occurred between Oct. 15-21, though that number likely will rise as more are confirmed.

The Florida Department of Health announced in June that it would no longer release daily COVID-19 data. Instead, it now releases a weekly report every Friday — but it continues to withhold information that previously was publicly available.

As of June 4, the state no longer reports non-resident vaccinations, coronavirus cases and fatalities. The state has declined repeated requests to provide non-resident data to the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida is the only state that updates its coronavirus caseloads and data just once per week. Although weekly reports can be more reliable than daily updates, experts warn that infrequent data updates may delay the identification of emerging trends.

Related: Hillsborough firefighter dies from coronavirus complications

Vaccinations: Florida administered 126,844 doses in the past week. Fewer than 55,000 doses went to first-time recipients. More than 5 million eligible Floridians remain unvaccinated.

As of Thursday, 73 percent of Florida residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the state. About 63 percent of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated.

But 37 percent of Florida’s total population remain unvaccinated, including children 11 and under who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.

Related: Florida kids still lead all ages in positivity as COVID cases fall

Vaccination rates are highest among Florida’s older adults: 89 percent for Floridians 65 and older and 84 percent of those ages 60-64, according to state data.

Children and young adults remain the least-vaccinated age groups. Ages 12-19 are 56 percent vaccinated, ages 20-29 are 54 percent, and ages 30-39 are 64 percent.

In Hillsborough County, 68 percent of residents 12 and up have been vaccinated; in Pinellas, 68 percent; in Pasco, 67 percent; in Manatee, 68 percent; in Polk, 65 percent; in Hernando, 60 percent; and in Citrus, 60 percent.

Booster shots: Florida administered 102,545 booster doses, administered to at-risk residents who received their second Pfizer dose at least six months ago. So far, nearly 875,991 Florida residents have received a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Related: USF researchers hope electrochemical nose will ‘sniff’ out COVID

Positivity: Florida’s positivity rate fell to 3.4 percent in the past week, down from 3.8 percent the prior week. Positivity rates were highest among ages 11 and under, with 4.6 percent of tests coming back positive.

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Before fully reopening, states should maintain a positivity rate of 5 percent or less for at least two weeks, according to the World Health Organization. A positivity rate of 5 percent or less indicates testing is widespread enough to capture mild, asymptomatic and negative cases.

Positivity fell around the Tampa Bay area, where the positivity rate was 4.9 percent in Hillsborough, 3.5 percent in Pinellas, 3.5 percent in Pasco, 4.0 percent in Manatee, 4.2 percent in Polk, 4.9 percent in Hernando and 3.7 percent in Citrus.

Related: Explainer: Is it time to get a COVID-19 booster? Which one?

Hospitalizations: Florida had 2,251 confirmed COVID-19 patients in the hospital as of Friday, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, down 23 percent from last week.

It’s the lowest number of COVID hospitalizations since the the first week of July, leading the Florida Hospital Association to declare “the summer delta surge in Florida is over.”

The Tampa Bay area saw 828 hospital admissions from Oct. 11-17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hillsborough County hospitals had 259 admissions, Pinellas had 253 admissions, Pasco had 84 admissions, Manatee had 30 admissions, Polk had 166 admissions, Hernando had 23 admissions and Citrus had 13 admissions.

Local numbers: Tampa Bay added 3,172 cases in the past week, bringing the area total up to 694,873 cases.

As of Thursday’s count, Hillsborough added 1,319 new cases, Pinellas had 559, Pasco 296, Manatee 269, Polk 548, Hernando 102 and Citrus 79.

The CDC reported that the Tampa Bay area had 243 deaths from Oct. 11-17: Hillsborough counted 49; Pinellas 49; Pasco 45; Manatee 17; Polk 47; Hernando 17 and Citrus 19.

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IT'S FLU SEASON: Get a flu shot and the COVID vaccine to avoid a ‘twindemic.’

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

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