More than 27,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 800 Floridians have died during the state’s novel coronavirus outbreak.
On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed 744 new cases and 49 deaths because of complications from COVID-19. Another 187 hospitalizations have now put a total of 4,000 Floridians in hospitals.
South Florida, where three counties alone make up 59% of the state’s COVID-19 cases, remains the hardest-hit by the virus. Miami-Dade County has 9,657 positive results, up from 9,354 Sunday night. Broward County has 4,078, up from 3,971, and Palm Beach County has 2,260, up from 2,170.
The three South Florida counties also lead the state in deaths. In Miami-Dade County, 215 Floridians, an increase of sixteen, have died. Seven deaths were confirmed in Broward County, raising the death toll there to 122, and Palm Beach County added one death, raising the death toll to 122 as well.
Earlier Monday, DOH confirmed 346 cases and 15 fatalities overnight. Now, the state’s caseload sits at 27,058 and the death toll is 823.
In nursing homes and assisted living facilities, 1,928 residents and staff have tested positive, an increase of 103 from Sunday. Now 204 people have died in those facilities, an increase of 25.
Amid optimistic outlooks that the state has flattened the curve and caseload in Florida hospitals, Gov. Ron DeSantis convened the first meeting of his task force on reopening the state. Increased testing, particularly with the initial order of 100,000 antibody tests, would help drive Floridians’ confidence to go out, spend money and restart the economy.
“You had a lot of stuff being said in March about this virus, which is a serious pathogen, but I think it was really where people were legitimately just frightened to the dickens,” he said.
New reports show “stealth cases” of COVID-19 may have been far more prevalent than initially thought. While it’s good news that the coronavirus is likely less deadly than reported cases show — with a 3% mortality rate in Florida — the discovery complicates decisions about returning to work, school and normal life.
DOH now has the results of 272,390 individuals tested in the state. Another 1,162 await their results from department-coordinated labs, though thousands more likely have their tests pending in private labs that don’t report tests until results come in.
Along with antibody tests coming out of China and Stanford University, there are also innovations including “rapid” tests by Abbott Laboratories and Disaster Management Group. President Donald Trump now uses Abbott’s test in the White House, according to DeSantis.
“If you go to anything in the White House, you’ve got to get the Abbott five-minute — in fact, he volunteered to send one to the Governor’s Office here so anyone who comes into our office is going to now need to get — but we’ll see what happens on that,” he said.
The state is also looking to build a fourth coronavirus testing lab with a larger capacity, that would be inland, unlike the other three, hopefully allowing the state to keep it open in the face of a hurricane.
“We have three state labs, but they can only do so many samples a day, and that obviously limits us,” the Governor said.