Nearly 100,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida after state health officials reported another 4,617 residents Saturday — a record-breaking number of new cases.
Sunday’s update from the Department of Health (DOH) shows 3,494 new cases of the novel coronavirus since Saturday’s 10 a.m. snapshot. Overall, 97,291 people tested positive for exposure.
That followed a jump of more than 4,000 in Saturday’s report for both new daily counts. Saturday’s update showed 4,049 new cases and set the count of people who tested positive through Friday at 4,061. The count has since revised to 4,024 in Sunday’s report.
DOH also shows 17 new deaths from the virus, raising the death toll to 3,254, including 93 non-Floridians who died in the state. An additional 165 Floridians were hospitalized, lifting the total number of hospitalizations to 13,227, including 288 non-residents.
At the current rate of growth, the Sunshine State will cross the 100,000 mark of total COVID-19 cases on Monday.
Confusion over how many confirmed new cases of the virus in Florida stirred Sunday after Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried tweeted the state had 4,671 new cases of the virus — the calendar day count — while DOH and the State Emergency Operations Center referred to 3,494 new cases in its daily email — the report-to-report count. However, previous tweets by the Commissioner, including the one quoted in her tweet Sunday afternoon, referred to the report-to-report count of new cases.
Both counts had shown sustained growth in the virus over recent days until the 10 a.m. to 10 a.m. period from Saturday to Sunday fell 555 from that same period from Friday to Saturday.
“@GovRonDeSantis owes Floridians an apology. But even more, he owes Floridians a serious response to this crisis. And right now, we’re not getting one,” Fried tweeted.
After attributing the growing number of cases to increased testing and spread among migrant farmers and inmates, DeSantis began addressing on Friday the rising positivity rate — particularly among young adults.
“So again, not huge clinical consequences, but in terms of spread and in terms of some of the vulnerable populations eventually seeping in there, certainly a cause for concern,” he told reporters in Tallahassee Saturday.
The positivity rate among possibly new cases was 12.4% Friday — since revised to 12.3% — the highest that rate has been since the state first reported that count in late April. On Saturday, that rate was 11.9%.
Two weeks ago, that percentage was 3.9% after the uptick had already begun.
Over the last couple of weeks, health officials have observed a drastic drop in the median age of those testing positive from the 50s to 37 last week. Several of the driving counties of the virus had median ages in the low 30s, even reaching 26 in Seminole County Thursday and 27 on Friday.
Those cases haven’t resulted in a spike in hospitalizations yet. Still, the state’s most populous counties have seen a growing number of weekly hospital visits for flu-like and COVID-like illnesses, another metric used to determine the state’s reopening progress.
Also Saturday, DeSantis reiterated that Florida wouldn’t implement new lockdowns or a mask order. He also denied it was a political choice. Instead, the Governor cited the state’s success at flattening the curve to prepare hospitals, which still have 27.6% available adult ICU capacity.
“I think that the system is good, and I think the tools there are stronger than they were before, so it just wouldn’t be appropriate to take some of those actions given that we have a hospital system in good shape,” the Governor said.
Since June 5, Florida has been in Phase Two of three, which includes allowing 100% capacity at retailers and mass gatherings of 50 or less. It also will enable bars and movie theaters to reopen, but some chains like AMC are still not opening locations.
More than 1.6 million people, including 41,028 Saturday, have been tested for the novel coronavirus in Florida. The state and public and private partners have opened testing facilities across the hardest-hit parts of the state that are available to anyone, regardless of age or symptoms, a stark change from the early days of the pandemic.
Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, which have still not entered Phase Two with the rest of the state, are the main hot spots for the virus. But the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas are seeing a resurgence of cases.
DOH shows 25,790 cases for Miami-Dade County, 710 more than on Saturday, and Broward County added 318 cases to reach 11,155. In recent days, Palm Beach County has now approached Broward with 10,754 overall, first reporting 248 on Sunday.
Hillsborough County crossed 5,000 cases Saturday, now with 5,580 after recording 261 new positives. Orange County has 4,914 total cases, with 345 new reports.