State health officials have confirmed nearly 7,000 coronavirus cases in Florida after adding more than 200 cases and 2 deaths to the official tally Wednesday.
The Department of Health (DOH) now totals 6,955 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 6,694 Florida residents. At least 87 Floridians have now died and 890 have been hospitalized.
An 87-year-old man and a 77-year-old female in Palm Beach County, neither of whom had traveled, became the state’s latest fatalities.
Tuesday saw 1,037 additional confirmed cases and 14 deaths, the worst day since the virus was first reported in the state at the start of March.
Most of the state’s positive novel coronavirus cases are in South Florida, but the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas have become growing hot spots of the virus. Gov. Ron DeSantis has said the first COVID-19 cases could have been in Florida weeks before the first case was confirmed last month and acknowledges community spread is underway in parts of the state.
Miami-Dade County reported an additional 79 new cases to total 2,202 confirmed. Broward County, with the next-highest concentration of cases at 1,232, received 13 new cases.
Miami, now with 1,223 confirmed cases, has the most confirmed cases of any city in Florida. Hollywood has 403 and Fort Lauderdale has 303.
Palm Beach County, which opened its first National Guard-operated drive-thru testing site Tuesday, confirmed an additional 16 cases to reach 567. Orange County now counts 392 cases and Hillsborough has 309.
Later Wednesday, DeSantis announced a safer-at-home order statewide beginning Friday morning, reversing course on a move he had previous called unnecessary.
St. Lucie County, with 40 cases and two deaths, was already planning to issue a safer-at-home order effective Saturday, which the city announced Tuesday evening. Nearby Martin County could soon follow suit. The county will join a growing list of communities that had issued some variation of a lockdown as the Governor resisted calls to implement a statewide shelter in place order.
DOH officials received notice of 3,073 new tests, putting the state’s total tests at 67,734. About 10% of tests have returned positive.
Of the confirmed positives, 744 had traveled, 1,033 had contact with a confirmed case and 473 had traveled and interacted with a confirmed case. The origins of 4,444 cases are still under investigation.
Those results, and 1,235 pending results, come from federal, state, hospital-based and commercial labs. Private clinical lab Quest Diagnostics has tested 19,575 out of its Tampa lab, the most of any lab in Florida.
DeSantis said he hoped the state could soon reach 105,000 tests if it maintains an expedited testing clip. That would equal the per-capita level of testing completed by South Korea, often pointed to as a model for governments’ coronavirus responses.
“Once you get that or better, you have a really good sense of how this virus is moving in all the different communities,” he said.
Some counties maintain the same relatively low positive testing rate while others, like Miami-Dade County, are having increasingly more relative positives as testing continues. The Governor said that suggests the virus is circulating differently there.
President Donald Trump spoke to DeSantis this morning about the fate of two cruise ships carrying passengers sick with the coronavirus that are hoping to offload passengers in the state. The Governor also reversed course Wednesday on his decision to keep them offshore after previously insisting the state’s resources are stretched too thin to let passengers disembark.