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Coronavirus in Florida

Where are Florida’s COVID-19 hotspots? Maybe not all where you think

Per capita, Sumter, Monroe, Alachua, Collier counties not far behind Broward, Miami-Dade.

While Broward and Miami-Dade counties receive national attention as hotspots of what could escalate into a major COVID-19 outbreak in Florida, several other counties scattered throughout the Sunshine State are also finding similar rates of infection.

Based on reports posted through Sunday morning by the Florida Department of Health, coronavirus testing in Broward has found about 4.3 cases of COVID-19 for every 10,000 residents thus far. In Miami-Dade the testing also has found about 4.3 cases per 10,000 people in the county.

Testing rates show that it’s not just Broward and Miami-Dade that are of concern.

In five other, much smaller, counties where testing has been performed at about the same relative pace, officials have been seeing confirmed-case rates not far behind what is being seen in Broward and Miami-Dade.

In Sumter County — home to most of The Villages — the rate thus far is 3.3 confirmed infections per 10,000 residents. Through Sunday morning, 43 cases have been found in Sumter, while the county’s latest population estimate was 128.754, less than a tenth of Broward’s or Miami-Dade’s.

In Monroe County — generally the Florida Keys — the number of confirmed infections so far works out to 2.9 cases per 10,000 people who live there.

In Alachua County — home to the University of Florida’s main campus — the tests so far have found 2.6 confirmed cases per 10,000 people.

Both Collier County, with Naples, and sparsely-populated Baker County, just west of Jacksonville, have seen positive tests showing up in a rate of 2.5 cases per 10,000 population thus far.

Osceola County, just south of Orlando, now has a positive test rate of 2.3 cases per 10,000 people.

Alachua and Osceola counties are among those to issue stay-at-home orders. Monroe County, meanwhile, has issued a travel ban limiting travel on U.S. 1 to island residents with the exception of certain authorized construction workers.

Those rates all are comparable to what was being seen in Broward and Miami-Dade counties just two or three, or at most four, days ago. And, as in Broward and Miami-Dade, the rates in all of those counties climb every day as tests find more and more cases.

Yet those testing samples, more than 7,000 test results each in Broward and Miami-Dade, still are relatively small in counties with more than 1 million residents apiece. With every day of additional tests, those rates rise, as more people are infected, and more people who have been infected are tested.

The sampling rates in all of those counties remain too low to offer much statistical confidence, though some of the counties actually have been testing more people per capita than has been done so far in either Broward or Miami-Dade. Alachua County has results back for 1,145 people, or 46 tests per 10,000. Sumter County has results back from 656 tests, or 51 per 10,000 people.

Through Sunday morning, Broward had compiled test results at a rate of 42 tests per 10,000. In Miami-Dade it was 27 tests per 10,000.

Sumter, Monroe, Alachua, Baker, Collier, and Osceola all are seeing higher rates of confirmed cases per capita than are being seen in some of the state’s other major metropolitan counties that have drawn significant attention.

In Palm Beach County, officials thus far have found 2.2 positive cases per 10,000 residents; in Orange County, 1.8; Hillsborough, 1.5; Duval, 1.3; and Pinellas, 1.2 positive test results per 10,000 people.

As of Sunday evening, the Florida Department of Health had recorded 4,950 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, with at least 60 deaths. Sunday’s additions alone make up nearly a fifth of cases reported to date. Also as of Sunday evening, DOH reports 50,528 tests have been administered.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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