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Numbers up as COVID-19 testing increases in Hillsborough, Pinellas

Pinellas County crossed the 10,000 threshold Thursday.

New cases spiked again in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties Thursday, though testing rates went down.

Hillsborough County added 996 new cases from Thursday morning to Friday morning, with 17,662 cases now logged.

But the positivity rate dropped to 14.2% Thursday, down from 19.8% Wednesday. That drop came as Hillsborough nearly doubled the number of tests returned, with 2,297 Wednesday and 5,982 Thursday.

The dip falls in-line with statewide data, which showed the positivity rate plummeting from 18.2% Wednesday to 12.7% Thursday. The state returned tests for about 38,000 more individuals Thursday than Wednesday, tracking the notion that more tests mean more cases.

Still, the county’s weekly positivity rate stands at 16.6%, far above the 10% threshold that gives health care officials pause.

The trend was similar in Pinellas County where 467 new cases were added between Thursday and Friday mornings, bringing the county’s total to 10,293, the first time the county has entered five digits.

Pinellas is only the seventh county to cross that ominous threshold, behind the South Florida epicenter in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, as well as Hillsborough, Orange and Duval.

The positivity rate dropped to 9.6% Thursday, the first time the county has been under 10% since June 27th. It’s seven-day average remains above 10% at 12.2%.

While Hillsborough leads Pinellas in cases, Pinellas leads in deaths, with 223 to date. Pinellas County has had more deaths than any other county in the state outside of South Florida where Miami-Dade has recorded 1,118 deaths, Palm Beach 586 and Broward 438 deaths. Hillsborough is fourth with 186 deaths recorded.

The number of tests returned in Pinellas doubled Thursday from Wednesday’s returns.

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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.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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