ST. PETERSBURG, FL — The Florida Department of Health delayed the release of the state's daily coronavirus statistics, prompting speculation the governor was suspending daily updates.
Gov. Ron DeSantis considered discontinuing the release of coronavirus daily numbers, and instead issue the case data weekly. But it appeared Wednesday that such a change is off the table for now. Thursday's update, released at the usual 11 a.m. timeframe, showed a surge in cases.
On Thursday, according to the Florida Department of Health, Florida experienced an uptick in statewide coronavirus case numbers by 5,588 with a total of 768,091. Hospitalizations had a slight 24-hour increase totaling 47,765, and 57 additional coronavirus deaths were reported making the total number at 16,470.
The Florida Department of Health's current coronavirus report for Pinellas has 24,650 cases; Hillsborough has 46,300 cases; Manatee has 12,761 cases; Sarasota has 9,235 cases; Polk has 22,256 cases; Pasco has 10,406 cases; and Dade has 180,497 cases.
The state website published coronavirus data at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday instead of that morning, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The governor's communications director, Fred Piccolo Jr., tweeted Wednesday, "There will be no elimination of COVID-19 data available to the public. There is no plan to change reporting frequency or depth anytime in the near future. That is all."
The Florida Department of Health released a press release that said the agency will conduct a more thorough review of all fatalities reported to the state.
“During a pandemic, the public must be able to rely on accurate public health data to make informed decisions," Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said in the news release. "To ensure the accuracy of COVID-19 related deaths, the department will be performing additional reviews of all deaths. Timely and accurate data remains a top priority of the Department of Health.”
Of the 95 fatalities reported to the Florida Department of Health as of Wednesday:
Eleven were over 30 days old
Sixteen had at least two months between the time the individuals tested positive and passed away
Five had at least three months between the time the individuals tested positive and passed away.
This didn't address exactly why the numbers were released late on Wednesday. This is the second time in a month the state has not released numbers on its scheduled time. October 10 was the first time, and it was blamed by the department on receiving 400,000 previously reported coronavirus test results from Helix Laboratory.
On Wednesday's delayed release, the Florida Department of Health reported a total of 762,533 coronavirus cases; 47,628 hospitalizations; and 16,413 deaths (including non-Florida residents).
Wednesday's reported numbers added 2,144 positive cases, and coronavirus deaths increased by 105, according to the Florida Department of Health.
For more information about coronavirus numbers in Florida, visit the Florida Department of Health.