Immokalee outbreaks raise Collier Co. cases above 3,000
Immokalee farmworkers climb into a truck on Saturday that will take them to pick produce on a farm in Hendry County. Some farms in Southwest Florida have shut down because of COVID-19, while several remain in operation to meet the country’s need for produce. (Kinfay/hopeful images)

Immokalee 2
More than half those diagnosed identify as Hispanic

An outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Immokalee skyrocketed Collier County past 3,000 Friday.

After 105 new cases were reported in the county overnight, the total number of cases sits at 3,097 as of Saturday at 10 a.m. The Immokalee zip code, 34142, which lies mostly in Collier County, has a reported 1,245 residents who have tested positive.

The data includes every case dating back to the first known coronavirus infection in Florida reported on March 1. Local officials stressed the majority of those are patients who have recovered from the virus. Department of Health reports show 1,163 of the Collier cases came back in the past two weeks, between June 6 and June 19.

Friday proved a particularly trying day for the county with more than 22% of tests for COVID-19 coming back positive.

There are plenty of signs the growth has occurred primarily within the migrant farmer community. The median age of those infected has dropped from 43 on June 11 to 35 now. A total of 1,592 of those infected identify as Hispanic, representing more than 51% of Collier cases.

Of the 289 patients who have been hospitalized within the community, 64 have died.

Collier County is the eighth in Florida to tally more than 3,000 known infections.

Beyond the outbreak in Immokalee, the county lies in the midst of a number of other counties with a large number of cases.

Most notably, Miami-Dade County to the immediate east has now seen more than 25,000 cases. Broward County, which also borders Immokalee, has reported 10,837 cases. To the north, Lee County reports 3,556 cases. And even rural Hendry County, with a population just north of 40,000 people, has reported 747 cases.

Farmworkers in the past week criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis for not being proactive about community spread in migrant communities.

The Immokalee zip code maintains the highest number of infections in the state, surpassing a Miami zip code that includes Little Havana.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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