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South Florida adds more than 3K new COVID-19 cases as Palm Beach death rate rises

The death rate had been dropping day-to-day in the county since mid-June.

South Florida’s tri-county area added another 3,201 cases in Tuesday’s COVID-19 report, as day-to-day trends showed conflicting signs about the virus’s impact on the region.

First, the good news: the share of tests that came back positive in Broward County dropped significantly from Monday’s report, going from 15.8% to 13.1%. That 13.1% number is the lowest total since the June 29 report, which showed a rate of 12%.

Still, it’s far above the 10% danger zone that health experts warn can be a sign the virus is spreading rapidly.

The death rate in Palm Beach County also rose for the first time in 18 days as the county recorded 20 new deaths in Tuesday’s report. That report covers new data from Monday to Tuesday morning.

The rise was slight, going from a 3.18% overall death rate to 3.23%. Still, the uptick is notable given the death rate had been consistently dropping in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties even as cases have surged.

That’s because the spread has mostly been confined to younger Floridians who are not as susceptible to the virus’s worst effects. The death rate is also a lagging indicator, meaning a surge in the virus’s spread can take weeks before claiming the lives of those infected.

Still, those day-to-day trends are volatile and more data is needed before drawing any major conclusions. The positivity rate has fluctuated in all three counties and the death rate may return to its downward trend going forward if older Floridians and those with pre-existing conditions remain largely shielded from the recent spread.

The week-to-week trends, however, continue to show how much the virus has been surging in the region.

From June 16-22 in Palm Beach County, there were 278 new cases per day among Florida residents with a positivity rate (the share of tests coming back positive) of 10.3%. The next week, those numbers rose to 423 new cases per day with a 10.9% positivity rate. In the most recent week of data, from June 30-July 6, Palm Beach saw 493 new cases per day with a 13.6% positivity rate.

In Broward, the county saw 323 new cases per day from June 16-22 with a 9% positivity rate. The next week, those numbers sat at 548 new cases per day with a 10.5% positivity rate. The past week, from June 30-July 6, there were 994 new cases per day with a 14.9% positivity rate.

The same story was true in Miami-Dade. New cases have gone from 604 per day from June 16-22 to 1,416 per day from June 23-29 all the way up to 2,034 new cases per day from June 30-July 6.

Over the same three one-week windows, the positivity rate has jumped from 12.3% to 15.8% to 19.9%. That means nearly one in five tests have come back positive in the county over the past week.

Miami-Dade has taken the most serious steps in the region, even rolling back its reopening plans, though County Mayor Carlos Giménez announced Tuesday he would soften that rollback and allow gyms and fitness studios to remain open. Beaches also reopened Tuesday, though a 10 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew persists.

Jackson Health System and other nearby hospitals have also begun making changes to account for the increase in bed capacity by cutting back on elective surgeries.

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Editor’s note on methodology: The Florida Department of Health releases new data every morning around 10:45 a.m. The total number reported in those daily reports include the previous day’s totals as well as the most up to date data as of about 9:30 a.m.

Florida Politics uses the report-over-report increase to document the number of new cases each day because it represents the most up-to-date data available. Some of the more specific data, including positivity rates and demographics, considers a different data set that includes only cases reported the previous day.

This is important to note because the DOH report lists different daily totals than our methodology to show day-over-day trends. Their numbers do not include non-residents who tested positive in the state and they only include single-day data, therefore some data in the DOH report may appear lower than what we report.

Our methodology was established based on careful consideration among our editorial staff to capture both the most recent and accurate trends.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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