Share of positive COVID-19 tests now down week-to-week in all three major South Florida counties

coronavirus nasal swab
That number remains dangerously high, but a drop could mean the region has seen a peak and is headed toward a reduction in spread.

The share of COVID-19 tests coming back positive in South Florida remains at a dangerously high level. For the first time since mid-May, however, that positivity rate has dropped in all three major counties from week to week.

The news comes as Miami-Dade County recorded 44 additional deaths as the state set a new record for deaths in the previous 24 hours. That data comes courtesy of the Thursday report from the Department of Health (DOH), which covers data from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning.

South Florida’s tri-county area also added 5,444 new confirmed cases in Thursday’s report. The average number of new daily cases has consistently increased over the past several weeks, and that trend was not broken with Thursday’s report.

However, the region has also upped its testing capacity, meaning officials can more easily identify new cases.

The DOH reports do not detail the number of actual people contracting the virus each day, as the state is not able to test every single person. Instead, the number of new daily cases is limited by testing capacity. Test more people, and you’ll find more cases.

That’s why that number should be looked at in conjunction with the share of tests coming back positive, the number of hospitalizations, the death toll and other data.

While the number of confirmed cases continues to increase, the rate of individuals testing positive now appears to be on a downswing. Here are some of the weekly numbers for the previous three weeks throughout the South Florida tri-county area:

Miami-Dade

— June 25-July 1: 1,650 new confirmed cases per day, 17.2% positivity rate

— July 2-8: 2,240 new confirmed cases per day, 21.2% positivity rate

— July 9-15: 2,773 new confirmed cases per day, 19.5% positivity rate

Broward

— June 25-July 1: 641 new confirmed cases per day, 12.1% positivity rate

— July 2-8: 1,134 new confirmed cases per day, 15.8% positivity rate

— July 9-15: 1,500 new confirmed cases per day, 14.9% positivity rate

Palm Beach

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

— July 2-8: 537 new confirmed cases per day, 13.7% positivity rate

— July 9-15: 715 new confirmed cases per day, 11.7% positivity rate

From late June to early July, those numbers were all on the upswing, as they had been in previous weeks. That changed with the most recent week of data, however.

Again, those positivity rates remain startlingly high. Health experts warn a positivity rate above 10% is a warning the virus is not under control. All three counties remain above that rate.

The share of tests had been rising though over previous weeks. So far, data released the past several days continues to show that number plateauing or falling.

It’s also true that as officials test more people, that positivity rate is expected to fall. That hasn’t happened prior to this week, as both the number of tests conducted and the share of positives have risen in conjunction.

Normally, however, the first people tested are those with the worst symptoms. As testing expands, more healthy people simply take the test as a precaution, which can reduce the share of positive tests.

That means that a dropping positivity rate doesn’t necessarily mean the virus is fully under control. Officials in South Florida have begun to pull back on the region’s reopening though, particularly in Miami-Dade County.

Those steps, in conjunction with a falling positivity rate, could mean the region will continue to see a downswing in the share of positive tests. Additional data will still be needed to confirm that reality, however.

While Miami-Dade County recorded dozens of additional deaths in Thursday’s report, the overall death rate since the start of the outbreak still dropped slightly. That number has fallen consistently in South Florida, even as the spread has increased in recent weeks. The virus is mostly affecting younger Floridians, who are less susceptible to the worst effects of the virus.

More than 84% of adult intensive care unit (ICU) beds across the three counties are occupied as of Thursday morning though due to how many people have contracted COVID-19. At least 14 hospitals have no ICU beds available, including North Shore Medical Center in Miami-Dade and Westside Regional Medical Center in Broward.

Hospitalizations and deaths are also lagging indicators, as it can take days after a positive test for an individual to fall severely ill or die. That means even if South Florida has cleared a hurdle in terms of new confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths could continue to spike.

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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.

Ryan Nicol

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 [email protected]


One comment

  • Margar ustin

    July 16, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    To Ryan nicol. Pls share this info. Read your article today pls stop positivity rate as its a meaningless number de santis does to distract from facts that hospitalizations deaths number of cases are catastrophically surging weeks now with full hospitals low supplies low staff and getting to point bodies will be going in trucks piled up soon.
    So you understand positivity rate pls see example here to see its meaningless so please don’t tell public improving anything because it’s not.
    Positivity rate is de santis way since early april to put out a number that’s fake and doesn’t reflect true florida conditions…which we all can see.

    Example of his so called positivity rate formula and it’s no reflection at all of horrific out of control condition.

    De santis staff does this so he can get positivity rate any day he wants.
    1 day he does 50000 tests and 9000 positive of the 50000. He takes …percent of what 9000 positive is of total 50000 tests gets a positivity rate of 18%.
    NEXT DAY HE ALLOWS 40000 TOTAL TESTS GETS 9000 POSITIVE…takes percent 9000 is of 40000 and gets
    22.5% POSITIVITY RATE.
    THAT LET’S HIM SAY…OH THE DAY 18% was declining that’s great.
    BUT RYAN TRUE POSITIVE CASES ARE 9000 BOTH DAYS REFLECTED IN RECORD HIGH HOSPITALIZATIONS DEATHS ETC.
    IT DOESN’T MATTER AS A NEEDED FACT TO KNOW A POSITIVITY RATE AS VERY UNIMPORTANT AS NO WAY REFLECTS IN ANY DAYS HOSPITALIZATIONS DEATHS ACTUALLY.
    A DECLINING DAY POSITIVITY RATE DAY WITH 100000
    TOTAL TESTS AND 14000 POSITIVE CASES HAS NO BEARING ON EACH OTHER. BECAUSE HE JUST SELECTS WHEN WHERE HOW MANY TESTS EACH DAY BY STAFF DOING THAT TO GET POSITIVITY RATE HE WANTS WHEN HOSPITALIZATIONS TRIPLING DEATHS TRIPLING ETC.

    IT’S TOTALLY MEANINGLESS BECAUSE HE OPENS CLOSEST SITES CALLS FOR MANY NO SYMPTOMS COME IN ETC ETC SO HE CAN DO LOT TESTS SOME DAYS AND….PERCENT OF TESTS….SAYS IS A SOULLESS CALLED POSITIVITY RATE.
    IT’S A CON THAT HE AND TRUMP CAME UP WITH AND SOME STATES NOT HONEST ALSO USE IT.
    It’s obvious it’s not matching what’s going on in hospitals and deaths in any way.

    You test more you might find more cases yes. But the more cases are the more cases now again 14000 and the percent they are of total tests is useless. And a misleading de santis metric.

    How can you say 15000 cases is a good sign??
    Then say hospitals at capacity supplies running out deaths tripling and not see positivity rate is a con.

    De santis is now setting up to be sure he closes nothing that desperately nends closing as spread is out of control worst in nation worse than many countries worst now than any country per population by huge highs.

    He closes some days many sites to show a fake declining day just using those who go hospital while rest go home sick needing a hospital.

    He has sites moved around all over state daily to not be available where lot infected that say they can’t get testing needed as mayors beg because de santis wants testing done and sites open or closed per hrs he needs to get a fake declining useless positivity rate.

    What’s frightening is in order to open unsafe schools he’s started doing this rate con every day and was before every few days.he’s setting up to not have to set stronger restrictions desperately needed as hospitalizations overwhelming deaths tripling.

    To say …positivity rate declining so all open stays open….when went again from 9000 to 15000 in one day same day he says it’s better because his conning positivity rate can be anything his staff in charge of this manipulates as he orders. Jones said it. It’s obvious. It’s an apocalyptic track to fast total destruction in florida of lives hospitals supplies deaths and certainly economy.

    Just look at hospitalizations and DEATHS.THAT’S THE TRUE NOT FAKE DISASTER IN FLA AND STOP HIM FROM THIS CONNING MISLEADING POSITIVITY RATE CONTRADICTION TO THE TRUTH.

    IF YOU TEST MORE YOU MIGHT GET MORE CASES YES. BUT CASES ARE CASES PERIOD. AND ARE ALARMING. WHAT PERCENT OF TESTS IS USELESS AND WHO CARES IT’S MEANINGLESS OTHER THAN A POLITICAL CUNNING DE SANTIS FORMULA TO fool media local leaders senators public etc etc.it isn’t in the data that’s important to look at daily. At all.the only true DATA IS HOSPITALIZATIONS DEATHS ICU BEDS SUPPLIES.FULL HOSPITALS. FACE HIM DOWN TO STOP SAYING IT’S BETTER AND DECLINING SAME DAY IT’S INCREASED CASES BY 5000 TO 14000 AND HOSPITALIZATIONS TRIPLED. GET IT.

    MAKE IT KNOWN YOU ARE ON TO THIS DE SANTIS USING TRUMPS DIABOLICAL TRICK THAT MEDIA GOES ON TV OR PRINTS SAYS GOOD NEWS!!!
    DECLINING POSITIVITY RATE BUT BAD NEWS IS 14000 CASES TODAY WHEN 9000 YESTERDAY.HOSPITALIZATIONS HAVE INCREASED TWICE WHAT WERE YESTERDAY AND DEATHS CONTINUE TO TRIPLE. DEATHS LAGGING 2 TO 4 WEEKS AFTER HOSPITALS ADMISSION.NEXT FEW WEEKS AND ONGOING WILL BE THROWN IN REFRIGERATED TRUCKS MASS GRAVES BASED ON HOSPITALIZATIONS LAST 3 WEEKS.

    ACCUSE HIM TO STOP THIS FALSE POSITIVITY STATISTIC AS HE’S USING LEAVE ALL OPEN THAT’S OPEN AND THOSE OPEN ARE CAUSING THIS CATROSPHIC TRACK.
    HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS HE NEEDS PUT RESTRICTIONS AND CLOSE DOWN. THOSE NUMBERS.HAVE BEEN SAYING WEEKS IT’S RUNAWAY OUT OF CONTROL.TOTALLY LATE JUST MASKS.MILLIONS INFECTED BY THOUSANDS NO MASKS IN RESTAURANT BARS BEACHES ETC ETC..

    IT’S VITAL HE BE !!!ACCUSED!!!! OF USING THIS CONSTANTLY METRIC POSITIVITY RATE HE CONTROLS 100% TO NOT PLACE RESTRICTIONS AGAIN URGENTLY NEEDED WEEKS AGO. IT’S A TOTAL CON JOB ON FLORIDA.LOOK AT NUMBERS OF CASES HOSPITALIZATIONS DEATHS PERIOD.

    POSITIVITY RATE DELIBERATELY USED TO OPEN AND KEEP OPEN TO DESTROY FLORIDA.NOT PLACE ANY RESTRICTIONS MORE LEAVING OPEN THE VERY CAUSES OF DAILY
    HE JUST DOESN’T NOT CARE. AND LEAVES OPEN THE VERY CAUSE OF THE TRACK TO RECORD HIGHS TO GO ON AND ON.

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