A month after the rise positive cases, daily deaths are spiking in Florida with a third straight day of triple digit fatalities.
In the last 24 hours, the Department of Health confirmed 156 dead Floridians, raising the state’s death toll to 4,677. Another 105 non-residents have died in the state, the same mark as the day before.
On Tuesday, the state set a record for 133 reported deaths, including one non-resident. That had followed up on a record-shattering 120 fatalities a week ago. Before that day, the most deaths reported in a single report was 72 on May 5.
The Thursday update marks the fourth time and third consecutive instance the state reported 100 fatalities tied to the virus.
On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis was asked about the rising number of deaths. In recent weeks, he had pointed to a falling mortality rate as more younger individuals tested positive.
“It’s something that we take very, very seriously,” he said. “We’re doing all we can because every life counts, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re 10 years old, 30 years old or 90 years old, we want to be there to do the best we can to help folks, particularly those who are the most vulnerable to a nasty virus.”
Deaths are a lagging indicator of the virus, coming at least three weeks behind upticks in cases. About four weeks ago, Florida began seeing multiple thousands of new cases daily.
But a rising number of the state’s elderly population, an at-risk demographic for severe infects, have tested positive in the weeks since the median age of new cases plummeted from the 50s to the early 30s throughout the end of May and beginning of April. The median age of Wednesday’s new positive residents was 40, down one year from the oldest median age since state health officials began reporting the metric last month.
Thursday’s report, which covers changes from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning, included 13,965 new positive residents and non-residents. For Wednesday the state recorded 13,837 newly infected residents.
And days of more than 10,000 new cases have become a regular occurrence, a stark change from early June when the state made headlines for a streak of more than 1,000 daily diagnoses. That streak never ended, as Florida continues to confirm several thousand new cases daily.
On Wednesday, Florida crossed 300,000 COVID-19 cases. It took Florida 114 days to record its first 100,000 COVID-19 cases between March 1 and June 22. It took 13 days to record the second 100,000 and 10 days to reach the third.
Driving the raw number of cases upward are record numbers of people seeking tests and an elevated positivity rate. For Wednesday, the positivity rate for possible new cases was 13%. That has averaged 14.1% over the past two weeks, above the state’s target 10%. The rate was below 3% in the second half of May.
More than 2.8 million individuals have been tested in Florida as federal officials provide temporary testing assistance in Jacksonville, providing about 34,000 samples daily until they packed up the operation Wednesday. On Wednesday, the state received results from 116,311 individuals, rising again but down from the record 142,970 individuals set Saturday.
The recent update also brought 491 new hospitalizations, lifting the total of those hospitalized to 19,82. At the time of publication, the Agency for Health Care Administration shows 8,276 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of 87 from roughly a day earlier.
And 5,176, or 39 more, of the state’s 6,191 adult ICU beds are occupied, leaving 16.4% available. Some hospitals are starting to feel the crunch, with 50 showing full adult ICU wings. But Carlos Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, says the current stress on his hospital system is more about personnel than capacity.
In defense of the rising number of deaths, DeSantis returned to his mantra that Florida has been a leader in elder care during the pandemic.
“We’re working hard every day to prevent not only the deaths, but also significant hospitalizations,” he said. “I think if you look at all the efforts that we’ve done to protect the most vulnerable and compare that with some of the other states who did different policies that they didn’t put as much emphasis on that.”
While South Florida remains the largest hot spot, cases are also growing in Central Florida, Southwest Florida and the Jacksonville area. Despite the number of new cases Thursday falling short of the record 15,300 diagnoses, several of the state’s hot spot counties tallied record counts of infections.
The Department of Health reported 3,108 new cases in Miami-Dade County, where now 75,425 have tested positive. Broward County added 1,413 cases to reach 35,566 and Palm Beach County has 23,711 overall, including 923 more in Wednesday’s report.
Hillsborough County has 21,557 after receiving 539 new positives. Pinellas County has seen 12,368 cases total, an increase of 288.
In the Orlando area, Orange County now has 21,299 cases after counting a record 1,390 new positives. And Osceola also set a new high, with 519 new cases pushing the caseload there to 5,270.
Duval County reports 14,992 total cases, an increase of 840.
Lee County on Sunday became the latest county with more than 10,000 cases, now with 11,721 after a rise of 872cases.
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.