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Orlando-area COVID-19 cases rise, but still trends downward

On the other hand, the COVID-19 death toll spiked in Central Florida.

Mid-week COVID-19 test result numbers, as they usually do, showed some increases across Central Florida in case numbers and hospitalizations but the region’s week-over-week averages still showed a slight downward trend in the coronavirus outbreak in greater Orlando, according to the latest state reports.

Yet a new alarming point emerged from COVID-19 reports released Thursday by the Florida Department of Health: one of the worst days the region has seen for newly-reported deaths due to the coronavirus.

Positive test rates also climbed across the region for the results returned on Wednesday, topping 10% in all six counties: Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia, Brevard, and Lake.

According to data released Thursday, Orange County logged 401 more COVID-19 cases since  Wednesday’s report. That 24-hour total was lower than the previous day’s. Yet the other five counties saw slight increases in Thursday’s report compared with Wednesday’s.

Still, overall, the latest report was better than what was recorded the previous week, so the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases being logged actually continued a slight downward trend, as it has done since peaking July 2.

But the new concern may be rising as the numbers of deaths, a total that generally lags case totals by 20-25 days, showed an unusually high toll across Central Florida in Thursday’s report, just as it did across Florida. Across Central Florida, 20 new deaths were attributed to the virus Thursday, according to state health officials.

Statewide, health officials confirmed 120 deaths due to COVID-19 over the past 24 hours. That shattered the single-report death toll record set May 5, when 72 Floridians were reported to have died from the virus. However, those people didn’t all die in the last day. Medical examiners may still be tying deaths from days or weeks ago to COVID-19.

Nonetheless, the latest reports on COVID-19 deaths fit an emerging pattern. Florida’s death toll has been going upward for a week and now the state has averaged 56 deaths per day over the previous week, the highest one-week rolling average the state has seen since the coronavirus crisis began in early March.

In Orange County, six new deaths were reported in Thursday’s state data. Brevard County also recorded six new deaths, and Volusia County, five. Seminole, Osceola, and Lake counties each suffered one new death from the virus, according to the state data.

Orange received results back from 2,253 coronavirus tests on Wednesday, and 15.1% came back positive for the virus, an increase from a two-week low positive-test rate of 11.4% that was seen in Tuesday’s batch of results.

In Seminole County, 1,049 new test results were returned Wednesday, and 12.9% were positive for the disease, up from 9% the day before.

In Osceola County, 17.3% of 793 new test results came back positive Wednesday. That’s down from what was seen the previous three days, but still one of the worst positive test rates in Central Florida.

Volusia County also saw 17.3% of its new test results come back positive Wednesday, on a batch of 784 tests. That’s more than double the rate seen in Tuesday’s test results.

Brevard County saw 11.5% of 1,350 tests come back positive in Wednesday’s batch of new results. That also is a significant increase from the previous few days.

In Lake County, 11.6% of 701 test results came back positive on Wednesday. Lake’s positive test rate has fluctuated significantly over the past week, and was at 9.5% in Tuesday’s batch.

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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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