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Cases are declining in Florida, and Sunday brought a glimmer of hope amid the rising death toll. Image via Getty.

Coronavirus in Florida

With lull in death toll, COVID-19 testing positivity rate falls to single digits

Sunday marks a glimmer of hope amid the rising death toll.

After five straight days of more than 100 daily deaths tied to COVID-19, state health officials on Sunday confirmed the deaths of 62 residents in the last 24 hours.

The Department of Health typically reports fewer cases, hospitalizations and deaths on Sundays and Mondays, when reports mostly encompass weekend updates. But 62 fatalities, down from a record 257 on Friday, is a positive trend after Florida finished last week with 1,245 deaths confirmed in those seven days alone.

And for the first time in more than a month, the testing positivity rate fell below 10%, reaching 9.3% Saturday, another hopeful trend as outbreaks continue to subside. Last week, the average daily testing positivity rate was 11.2%.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has pointed to the declining positivity rate and emergency department visits as signs that Florida is on the mend after a COVID-19 resurgence that began in late May.

In the second half of May, the testing positivity rate was below 3%. But more than 15% of individuals tested at the start of last month were returning positive. The state’s target threshold is 10%.

Florida has faced a rash of deaths in recent weeks, the delayed result of a spike in infections. In four consecutive days last week, the state set record death tolls. That streak ended Saturday when officials confirmed the deaths of 179 residents — which would have been a record before last week.

In total, 7,084 Floridians have died, as have 122 non-residents in the state. On Saturday, the state crossed 7,000 fatalities.

Modeling from earlier in the pandemic that drew DeSantis’ ire on numerous occasions at one point predicted the state could record 6,766 deaths by Saturday. Florida lost those lives due to a July spike rather than a May spike, as that model, produced by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, originally predicted.

The model currently predicts 16,318 Floridians will die by Nov. 1.

It’s not the first time the Governor will be eating his words after Democrats hit last month him over May comments about how the media was spinning conspiracy theories.

“You got a lot of people in your profession who waxed poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida is going to be just like New York,” DeSantis told reporters. “Wait two weeks. Florida is going to be next. Just like Italy. Wait two weeks. Well, hell, we’re eight weeks away from that, and it hasn’t happened.”

A week ago, Florida surpassed New York as the state with the second-most number of COVID-19 diagnoses, albeit with a broader testing apparatus during its respective infection peak.

The state has tested more than 3.7 million individuals, including 87,975 on Saturday.

Sunday’s update includes 7,104 new diagnoses, the fewest in nearly a month. The Sunday report covers resident and non-resident cases confirmed between Saturday morning and Sunday morning. For all day Saturday, officials confirmed cases among 7,160 residents.

New hospitalizations also declined, with only 178 new confirmations in the last 24 hours, now for a total of 27,150 hospitalizations. The Agency for Health Care Administration reports 7,968 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, a decrease of 281 in the last 24 hours.

Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the highest ranking state official to do so. He and Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon tested positive after Inch recently returned from Columbia Correctional Institution, a North Florida prison where 1,300 inmates and 72 corrections workers have tested positive for the virus, according to a press release issued by corrections officials.

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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.

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