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COVID-19 data in South Florida show signs of stabilization, but positivity rates remain high

The situation in Miami-Dade County continues to worsen, however.

Florida Department of Health data released Monday shows COVID-19 spread in Broward and Palm Beach counties has not worsened week to week. That’s a change from the previous few weeks, which had consistently shown numbers rising in the region.

In Broward, the positivity rate remained at 15% each of the past two weeks. In Palm Beach, the rate actually dropped from 13.5% from June 29-July 5 to 12.1% from July 6-12.

Those numbers could be a sign that the virus’ surge has peaked in those counties. Additional data in subsequent days will be necessary to show those trends are holding, however.

Miami-Dade County still shows a troubling trend, as the number of new daily cases and share of positive tests has risen from week to week once again.

The total share of tests coming back positive remains high in all three counties. Officials are seeking not just stabilization, but a drop in rates as they remain above 10%.

“This is the toughest part of the epidemic in our state,” DeSantis noted at a Monday evening news conference.

Earlier Monday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez held a virtual news conference with several doctors who have been advising the county. The Mayor again hammered home the need for residents to socially distance.

“This virus will not go away unless we change our behavior,” Giménez said.

Dr. Aileen Marty, who studies infectious diseases at Florida International University, also chided residents who refuse to wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines.

“That’s the main reason we are where we are,” Marty said.

She also noted the need for government officials to increase their ability to track virus spread.

“We do need more contact tracers. We do need better contact tracing questionnaires. We do need more testing capability with a much faster turnaround time,” Marty said.

Asked whether the county was considering reverting to a safer-at-home order if recent reopening rollback measures don’t stem the spread of the virus, Giménez said “everything is on the table, though he also was clear officials are resisting such a move.

“The simple act of just closing the indoor dining room spaces has caused great controversy,” Giménez noted, though he also argued there was “no question” it was necessary.

“I feel, and I think that the doctors feel, that if we simply follow the rules — and keep our masks on, keep our distance and wash our hands — what we have open can be done in a safe way.”

Giménez said any decision on further rollback measures would wait another week until the county can evaluate how the existing rollback has affected the virus’ spread.

Pressed on what the county can do to better track the virus or increase compliance with the city’s existing restrictions, Giménez ultimately said the responsibility lies on residents to listen to officials’ guidance.

“We keep looking for a boogeyman,” Giménez said. “We keep looking for this reason why we have this high contagion. ‘Well, we didn’t have enough contact traces. Well, we don’t have enough testing. We don’t get [test results] back fast enough.'”

“The reason is us. The reason is us, okay? There is no boogeyman, it’s us.”

He continued, arguing, “we can do all the tests in the world you want. We can get all the contact tracers in the world we want. It’s not going to make a difference. We have to change our behavior, period. Are those tools? Yes, they’re tools. Is testing a tool? Yes. Contact tracing? Yes. But the number one reason is our behavior.”

The Mayor also continued to argue recent protests against police brutality may have contributed to the virus’s spread.

“I think there’s also been mixed messages. I think that, at the beginning of the month [of June], we focused on disturbances and what was happening around the country with disturbances, and we kind of took our eye off the coronavirus,” Giménez argued.

“We saw images of thousands of people, some of them — a lot of them — not wearing masks, close together, for hours on end. There wasn’t much of a focus on, ‘Hey, look, they’re not wearing masks. Hey, they’re not practicing social distancing.’ So people took that to mean, ‘Well, this thing may be over.’ And I think that we saw some behaviors change.”

Those images were also seen in Broward and Palm Beach counties, however, which have not yet seen numbers as severe as those in Miami-Dade County.

The weekly numbers for the previous three weeks show a consistently worsening crisis across South Florida from late June to early July. This previous week, however, did reveal those potentially encouraging trends in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

While the number of new daily cases continues to rise in all three counties, a stabilized or dropping positivity rate means that rise in raw cases can be attributed to an increase in testing. Here is that data:

Miami-Dade

— June 22-28: 1,284 new cases per day, 15.7% positivity rate

— June 29-July 5: 1,965 new cases per day, 19.6% positivity rate

— July 6-12: 2,667 new cases per day, 20.3% positivity rate

Broward

— June 22-28: 529 new cases per day, 10.1% positivity rate

— June 29-July 5: 966 new cases per day, 15% positivity rate

— July 6-12: 1,380 new cases per day, 15% positivity rate

Palm Beach

— June 22-28: 401 new cases per day, 10.5% positivity rate

— June 29-July 5: 500 new cases per day, 13.5% positivity rate

— July 6-12: 646 new cases per day, 12.1% 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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