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Miami-Dade County posts massive 26% positivity rate as officials hire additional COVID-19 contact tracers

Positivity rates remain dangerously high throughout the South Florida tri-county area.

Miami-Dade County saw one of its most troubling daily reports of the entire COVID-19 outbreak Thursday, as 26.2% of tests recorded in the past 24 hours came back positive.

That’s the highest number recorded in the county dating back to available county-level reports from late April.

Florida’s most populous county has served as the most serious epicenter for the outbreak. Miami-Dade has also experienced some of the most severe numbers during the recent resurgence of the virus, even forcing officials to begin pulling back several reopening measures.

Thursday’s report was even more dire, however. The number of new positives dropped day-to-day from Wednesday’s report, going from 2,916 new cases in Wednesday’s data to 1,987 Thursday.

That was due, however, to a 45% reduction in overall tests conducted during the same span. The share of tests spiked significantly.

For a week straight, From July 1-7, Miami-Dade had seen its positivity rate among Florida residents hover from 19.5%-21.9%. That mark is already dangerously high, but Thursday’s leap to 26.2% means more than one in four tests came back positive over the previous 24 hours.

County officials announced Thursday they would hire 250 additional contact tracers to help grapple with the ongoing spread. As the Miami Herald reported, the county will tap into $14 million in federal funds to pay for the hires. That money came via the $2 trillion CARES Act approved in March to provide economic relief to individuals, businesses and local governments impacted by the outbreak.

The announcement comes days after Gov. Ron DeSantis and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez gave conflicting answers as to whether the state or county government was responsible for those contact tracing hires.

Broward County, too, is moving deeper into dangerous territory. The county has already consistently posted positivity rates above the 10% level experts warn can be a sign of trouble. In Wednesday’s report, that number was under 14%. On Thursday, Broward posted an even larger leap than Miami-Dade, with Broward showing a 22.7% positivity rate.

Palm Beach County’s positivity rate also rose day-to-day, going from 13.3% Wednesday to 14.2% Thursday. That Thursday number fits within the county’s range dating back to late June, and does not represent a sizable leap as was seen in its neighbors to the south.

Overall, South Florida added 3,733 new cases in Thursday’s report, which covers data from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning. Miami-Dade added 1,987 new cases, while Broward added 1,321 and Palm Beach upped its total by 425.

The median age of those new cases remains in the high 30s to low 40s. That’s led the death rate to again dip in all three counties. While that number dropped statewide as well, Thursday’s report also saw a record in new deaths across the state with 120.

State health officials are banking on the virus remaining among that younger population as it continues to spread. That could keep the death rate down, though it should be noted the virus can also cause serious long-term effects for the vast majority who survive infection.

While the day over day surge in positivity rates for Broward and Miami-Dade is eye-popping, those daily changes can fluctuate significantly. Looking at the week-to-week trends — which are more stable — shows much of the same concern, however.

Here are the weekly numbers for the previous three weeks throughout the South Florida tri-county area:

Miami-Dade

— June 18-24: 709 new cases per day, 12.8% positivity rate

— June 25-July 1: 1,651 new cases per day, 17.2% positivity rate

— July 2-8: 2,243 new cases per day, 21.1% positivity rate

Broward

— June 18-24: 361 new cases per day, 8.9% positivity rate

— June 25-July 1: 642 new cases per day, 12.1% positivity rate

— July 2-8: 1,140 new cases per day, 15.8% positivity rate

Palm Beach

— June 18-24: 292 new cases per day, 10.4% positivity rate

— June 25-July 1: 429 new cases per day, 11.1% positivity rate

— July 2-8: 537 new cases per day, 13.6% positivity rate

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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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