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Orange County, Central Florida may be plateauing on COVID-19 cases

Orange County’s positive test rate, average daily case count falling

The numbers of Orlando-area people testing positive for the COVID-19 disease may have plateaued and were showing signs of declining in recent days, according to COVID-19 reports from the Florida Department of Health.

The most recent state report, issued Wednesday morning, shows 426 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Orange County and 983 throughout the six-county Central Florida region in the 24 hours since Tuesday’s report.

That continues a tentative trend that began in the first days of July for Central Florida, Orange, and several other counties, of slightly downward slopes in the seven-day averages of new cases confirmed.

Statewide, health officials reported 9,989 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, lifting the overall count by Wednesday morning to 223,783. The state’s trend lines continue upward, with the seven-day average of new cases climbing to 9,255 Tuesday, the first time it has exceeded 9,000.

Since Tuesday’s report, 48 Florida residents have died, raising the death toll to 3,841 Floridians. That is what Florida has been averaging for about a week.

Central Florida has been averaging 1,258 new cases per day over the past week according to the latest few reports; that’s down from a July 2 peak of 1,334.

Orange County is averaging 617 cases per day now, down from a peak of 688 on July 1. Seminole County is down to 139 cases per day on average through the latest report, down from a high of 153 on July 2.

Those trends follow mask orders issued in several Central Florida counties, starting with Orange’s widespread masks-in-public order issued by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings starting June 20.

The latest report also shows that Orange C0unty’s rate of positive tests for the batch of results returned on Tuesday was 11.4%, the lowest rate the county has seen for one day’s test results since June 17.

Across Central Florida, the totals of new test results coming in continue to be generally lower than what was received in the last few days of June and the first few days of July, which would reduce the overall numbers of new cases. But the positive test rates have shown signs of declining in most counties, supporting the downward trend of new cases.

The six-county region saw a positive test rate of 10.1 in Tuesday’s batch, also the lowest seen since late June.

However, the worst may be yet to come. The state’s data have shown that the level of hospitalizations for the virus do not peak for 11-15 days after the trend of cases flattens out, and deaths related to COVID-19 do not peak for another 10-11 days after the hospitalization trends flatten out.

State data on hospital intensive care beds available show several Orange County hospitals already have filled all their ICU beds.

Osceola County is somewhat bucking the regional trend. The county logged 112 new cases in the latest state report, and saw 19.5% of its test results returned on Tuesday come back positive. Osceola’s seven-day average of cases has been in the mid-160s for the past five days, peaking at 166 on Tuesday.

Seminole County logged 130 new cases in Wednesday’s report, and its seven-day average for new cases is now 139, down from a peak of 159 on June 30. In Tuesday’s batch of new tests, 9% were positive for the virus, the second time in three days Seminole has seen a rate below the 10% threshold that alarms public health officials.

Volusia County also saw its test rate fall below 10% to 8% in Tuesday’s batch, the first since June 27 that was below 10%. Volusia logged 119 cases in Wednesday’s report and has been averaging 122 confirmed new COVID-19 cases over the past week. Its worst seven-day average reached 130 new cases on July 2.

Brevard County logged 107 new cases in Wednesday’s report, which dropped its seven-day average to 121, after that average had peaked with an at 153 cases per day on July 3. For Tuesday’s batch of new test results, Brevard saw a 6.8% positive test rate, the lowest it has seen in two weeks.

Lake County logged 89 new cases in Wednesday’s report, but its seven-day average of 97 remains near the county’s all-time high of 99 set the day before. Lake’s positive test rate was 9.5%, about the middle of the range it has seen over the past couple of weeks.

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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 nonresidents 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

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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