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Hillsborough posts double digit positive test rate for second straight day

Pinellas County continues to struggle with higher death toll.

Hillsborough County coronavirus cases continue to surge alongside a statewide trend emerging in recent days.

The Florida Department of Health reported 220 new cases Wednesday, down from 246 Tuesday, but still a significant increase over the 54 cases reported two weeks ago. Over the past two weeks, new cases have been less than 100 on only four days. Three of the past four days have seen more than 200 new cases.

The county now has 4,610 reported cases since the virus first appeared in Florida in March. Hillsborough County has the highest concentration of cases outside of South Florida.

Pinellas County has escaped some of the brunt of Hillsborough’s load, but is still seeing an overall increase in new cases. DOH confirmed 141 new cases Wednesday, down from 170 Tuesday. The county now has 2,887 total cases reported since the virus’ onset.

Local officials in areas across the state, particularly Democratic mayors and county officials, have increasingly been expressing concern over the rising numbers.

But Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to dismiss the new spike because the state significantly increased its testing capacity. Tests are now available in most areas, including in Pinellas and Hillsborough, regardless of age, symptoms or possible contact.

However, another metric shows the Governor’s attribution to testing is not the whole story, with the percentage of overall tests coming back positive trending upward in recent days.

That’s particularly true in Hillsborough County where for the second day in a row the percentage of positive tests landed in double digits at 12.1% Wednesday and 13.9% Tuesday. The seven day average is 8.9%.

Pinellas’ positive testing rate is also on the rise, thought is not as prominent as Hillsborough’s.

While Pinellas County has fewer cases than Hillsborough County, more people are dying there, with that number now at 112. Only 105 coronavirus patients have died in Hillsborough County.

That disparity is likely attributable to the age distribution of patients in each county. A total of 405 coronavirus patients in Pinellas County were age 75 and older, considered the most vulnerable demographic.

In Hillsborough, only 401 patients were 75 or older.

Both counties’ most affected age demographic are younger people between the ages of 25 and 34, a trend that began after the state started reopening businesses, restaurants, and, more recently, bars and night clubs.

Pinellas County also has a higher incidents of spread at nursing home and assisted living facilities with 25% of its entirely caseload stemming from patients, residents or staff at longterm care facilities.

Only 14% of Hillsborough’s cases stem from those facilities, on par with the state average.

Neither county has a statistically relevant impact in correctional facilities with just seven cases in Hillsborough and 10 in Pinellas.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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