More than 500,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida as of Wednesday, making it the second state to cross that mark less than a week after California did so.
The growth of daily diagnoses have slowed in the last week, but state health officials still confirmed 5,409 cases in the last 24 hours. In total, 502,739 people, including 5,558 non-residents who tested positive in the state, have contracted the virus.
It took Florida 114 days to record its first 100,000 COVID-19 cases between March 1 and June 22. The next 400,000 cases took only 44 days.
While new cases are in decline from the more than 10,000 people that were testing positive on some July days, deaths have continued increasing. In the last 24 hours, the Department of Health confirmed 225 fatalities, raising the state’s death toll to 7,627, plus 124 non-residents.
Last week, a record 1,245 Floridians died. Through Wednesday, the state is on track to surpass that one-week death toll.
Decreasing positivity rates and fewer total tests are driving new diagnoses downward.
For a week straight, the seven-day average testing positivity rate has declined. The positivity rate on Tuesday, the most recent day available, was 10.9%, but the seven-day average fell to 10.5%.
However, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday told reporters that he now prefers emergency department visits over testing positivity rates as the best metric to track the virus’ movement.
In recent weeks, some labs or hospitals have reported testing batches with 100% positive results, indicating the labs are not reporting negative results. That has raised questions about the state’s positivity rate, including from DeSantis, who said to use the positivity rate, “you kinda gotta get all the negatives there as well.”
“I’d be very cautious of tying a child’s future to the efficacy of some private lab dumping the results into a system,” the Governor said.
Visits for cough and fever have been in decline since early July, and visits for shortness of breath have been in decline since mid-July.
Meanwhile, the state received another relatively low number of COVID-19 test results Tuesday. Results from only 57,272 individuals came back.
Before then-Hurricane Isaias threatened Florida’s Atlantic coast, the state received nearly 100,000 tests daily. More than 3.8 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in Florida.
The new cases reported Wednesday comprised residents and non-residents whose diagnoses DOH confirmed between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning. For all day Tuesday, the state confirmed cases in 5,495 residents.
After a recent decline, hospitalizations jumped back up again, with 621 new Floridians confirmed hospitalized with the virus. In total, 28,573 residents diagnosed with COVID-19 have been sent to the hospital.
The Agency for Health Care Administration reports that 7,620 individuals are currently hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19.
In long-term care facilities, 3,242 residents and staff have died, including 87 people whose deaths the state confirmed in the last 24 hours.
Those nursing homes and other facilities house some of the state’s most at-risk residents. But after months of shuttering visitation to those facilities, DeSantis hopes the state can find a pathway to make visitation possible again.
“Any family member who has COVID antibodies should be allowed to visit the facilities,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “I would be comfortable saying that if you have those antibodies, you should be able to visit your family member.”
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.