Florida’s COVID-19 surge sees 7,459 more cases

Marc Freeman, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Florida’s coronavirus woes continued Tuesday with 7,459 confirmed infections and another 86 reported deaths linked to COVID-19.

The number of new cases follows monthlong trends of increases across the state, based on health department data.

It’s the second highest number of cases this month, following 10,105 infections tallied Sunday. Florida has confirmed 897,323 total cases of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.

South Florida is experiencing a serious outbreak, with 3,257 new cases in 24 hours. And COVID-19 testing positivity rates in the region also are more troubling by the day, with Palm Beach County now just a hair under 10%.

Infectious disease specialists warn that a rate over 5% shows the virus is not under control. All three major South Florida counties have exceeded that level this month.

Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson told Palm Beach County commissioners Tuesday that the data shows increases in hospital emergency room visits for virus-like illness, and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“We are three weeks into resurgence and I realize that our community has COVID fatigue but now is not the time to give up our carefulness, in fact, just the opposite," Johnson said, urging the public to avoid crowded places, close contact with others, and confined spaces.

“It is important that our community understands that the COVID pandemic is far from over and the risk of spread remains,” he said. “In fact, the risk is higher now. That again, businesses are open, there are greater opportunities for crowding, confined spaces and close contact.”

South Florida

Broward County: 966 additional cases and two more deaths. Broward has a known total of 96,700 cases and 1,627 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The death tally includes 29 non-residents.

Palm Beach County: 400 additional cases and eight more deaths. The county now has 59,154 confirmed cases and 1,659 deaths, including 24 non-residents.

Miami-Dade County: 1,891 additional cases and 14 new deaths. The county now has 205,536 confirmed cases and 3,745 deaths, including 22 non-residents.

Testing and positivity rates

Public health experts say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. Florida exceeds 5% by both of its measures of assessing the rate for testing of residents.

In the first calculation, the state reported a daily positivity rate of 8.64%, up from 7.94% the day before. This method of calculating positivity counts new infections only, but also counts repeat negative tests, which skews the figure downward.

According to the state, Tuesday’s new case numbers reflect the results of 85,044 COVID-19 tests of Florida residents received from labs in the past day, up from 56,877 results reported Monday.

In the second calculation, which includes retests of people who were previously diagnosed, the statewide daily positivity rate is 10.39%, based on the latest results for 94,738 residents. That’s up from 9.54% the previous day.

Broward County: Daily positivity rate of 7.99% for people with new infections only, up from 7.67% the previous day, according to state data.

Palm Beach County: Daily positivity rate of 9.95% for people with new infections only, up from 7.58% the previous day.

Miami Dade County: Daily positivity rate of 8.96% for people with new infections only, up from 7.52% the previous day.

Child infections

COVID-19 infections among children under age 18 are rising by hundreds of cases each day in Florida. Tuesday’s data show 78,553 cases statewide, an increase of 825 from the previous day.

Records show 657,489 kids have been swabbed since the beginning of the pandemic. And 11.9% of them have tested positive.

Overall, the statistics show 16,647 cases among children in Miami-Dade County, the most in the state, followed by 10,376 cases in Broward. There have been 4,770 confirmed infections among kids in Palm Beach County.

The statewide report also shows 897 children have been treated in hospitals for COVID-19 illness since March. Nine have died. The death total has been the same since Sept. 26.

Hospitalizations

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, 3,369 people were hospitalized in Florida with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19. That’s an increase of 126 patients in about 24 hours.

In South Florida, Broward County reported 324 patients, up by 40; Palm Beach County had 244, up by nine; and Miami-Dade had the most in the state with 466, up by one.

The online report from the state Agency for Health Care Administration updates frequently throughout the day. Hospitalizations hit a peak in late July of about 9,500 patients.

Since the pandemic began, 52,329 residents have been hospitalized for the disease.

Deaths

Statewide: The state’s pandemic data report shows a total of 17,644 Floridians have died from COVID-19. In addition, 217 non-residents have died after contracting the virus. Most of the 86 fatalities reported Tuesday happened over several weeks but were just confirmed in the past day.

Florida has the fourth-highest total of COVID-19 deaths among the states, behind New York, Texas and California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Florida’s death rate since the pandemic began ranks 13th among states, at 82 deaths per 100,000 people, the CDC reports. That’s higher than the national rate of 74 deaths per 100,000.

Long-term-care facilities: At least 7,044 residents and staff have died at nursing homes and assisted-living centers throughout Florida. That’s another 29 deaths in the past day, state data show.

Miami-Dade County has reported the highest number of deaths at long-term-care facilities, with 856 unchanged from Monday’s numbers. Palm Beach County is second with 739, five more deaths than the previous day. Broward has reported 464 deaths, one more than the previous day.

National and global view

U.S.: Almost 11.3 million people in the country have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 247,696 have died as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard.

World: More than 55.3 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 1.3 million people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins says. The U.S. has had the most COVID-19 cases and deaths of any country. The U.S. has 4.3% of the world’s population, but 20.36% of the world’s cases and 18.59% of the world’s deaths.

Staff writer Austen Erblat contributed to this report. Marc Freeman can be reached at mjfreeman@sunsentinel.com and on Twitter @marcjfreeman.

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