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Even with weekend ‘dip’ Hillsborough becomes fourth Florida county to surpass 10K COVID-19 cases

New cases historically plummet over the weekend.

Both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties saw a dip in new coronavirus cases over the weekend.

Hillsborough’s numbers dropped from an all-time high of 1,105 on Friday to 771 on Saturday and 415 on Sunday.

The county now has 10,323 reported cases, becoming only the fourth county in the state to reach five figures.

In Pinellas, cases were down from 608 new cases Friday to 294 Saturday and 251 Sunday. The county now has 6,260 cases.

There are several trends worth noting in the dips.

First, reports covering Saturday and Sunday data consistently show reductions. Most public testing sites are closed weekends and some labs may also have delayed results.

Statewide, new cases dipped 18% Sunday June 7, 36% June 14, 16% June 21 and 28% this Sunday. Those numbers are also reflected in the number of tests returned those same days, with drops of 51%, 32%, 9% and 42%, respectively.

Further, in both counties the weekend dips would have been records or near records just one week ago, highlighting a remarkable shift in the number of new positive test results being returned.

Positivity rates also remain an area of concern. While Sunday numbers declined, the percentage of tests coming back positive remained high at 15.6%, an increase from 14.3% Saturday. The seven day rolling average is a concerning 14.5%.

A similar trend exists in Pinellas where 10.7% of all tests returned Sunday were positive, up from 10.2% Saturday, but down from the seven day average of 11.79%.

The double digit positive rates debunk claims that numbers are only on the rise because overall testing increased.

Testing has increased over time, but the latest surge in cases has led to new troubles with testing access. Public testing locations have been crowded and people seeking tests have reported difficulty getting confirmation numbers to obtain tests.

“The Tropicana Field testing site replaced the Carillon site which served us well for awhile. The testing capacity is disappointing. We are working with the state to bring additional, expanded testing with Saturday and evening hours to another St. Pete site ASAP,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman wrote on Facebook Monday morning.

 

New cases are still trending among a much younger age demographic than earlier in the pandemic, a possible bright spot in an otherwise grim new trend.

Hillsborough’s median age is just 34 and Pinellas’ 38. Both counties are also seeing an ongoing dip in new cases at longterm care facilities where elderly patients are at particularly high risk. Only 7% of Hillsborough County’s total cases have originated from longterm care facilities. Pinellas County’s dropped from a quarter of all cases earlier this month to just 15%, though that share is still higher than the state average, which is 9%.

Despite the reduction in age, people are still dying. Hillsborough County added four deaths Sunday, landing at 135. Pinellas County held steady at 154 deaths.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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