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Southwest Florida surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths

More than 12% of the state’s deaths have been in Southwest Florida.

More than 1,000 Southwest Florida residents have now died from the novel coronavirus.

The Department of Health reported another 35 COVID-19-related deaths in Manatee County in Monday’s report, along with eight more in Sarasota County.

That brought the total number of fatalities in the 10-county region to 1,036. That means Southwest Florida residents make up 12.3% of the 8,408 deaths statewide.

While the statewide trends have been moving in the right direction as far as positivity rates, the sudden jump in Manatee cases raises some alarms locally. The virus continues to most threaten older patients. While the median age for Manatee patients is 39, about 79% of deaths have been individuals age 65 or older. That demographic makes up about half of hospitalizations in the county.

There have now been 111 deaths in the county among residents or staff at long-term care facilities. With 695 cases tied to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Manatee makes up about 8% of such cases.

The deaths may reflect a spike in new cases in July. A month ago, there were 475 positive reports for coronavirus in a single day, July 11. By comparison, just 54 new diagnoses came back Sunday. The positivity rate in Manatee was at 5.2% on Sunday.

The most cases and deaths in the region remain in Lee County, the post populous in Southwest Florida county. There, a total of 16,632 have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 334 have died with the disease. That puts the mortality rate among known infections above 2%.

For the region as a whole, the death rate for those testing positive for COVID-19 sits around 2.04%, compared to a statewide rate of 1.57% and a nationwide rate of 3.22%.

The highest infection rate remains in rural Hendry County, where more than 1 in 25 residents now have tested positive for COVID-19. That includes about 24 new tests on Friday. The 38 deaths in the county represent a fraction of the statewide total, but mark a 2.13% mortality rate for the county. That’s despite a low median age for infections at 37.

Unlike along the coastal counties of Southwest Florida, the major source of infections in Hendry has been in the Hispanic population, which represents 1,228 of the 1,783 infections in the county.

Morning report 8-10-20.

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

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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