State health officials have confirmed 5,557 COVID-19 diagnoses since Wednesday evening, the largest single-day jump in infections detected since mid-August.
The influx of cases comes after the Department of Health received a high volume of test results Wednesday — 106,033 total. The percent positivity rate of test results have increased in recent days, raising concerns among some infectious disease experts that Florida could be seeing another surge like in other parts of the country.
Overall, 768,091 people have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in Florida, including 9,785 non-residents. DOH’s Thursday update includes an increase of 57 fatalities. The death toll now sits at 16,267 dead residents plus 203 dead non-residents in the state.
Wednesday’s update was delayed several hours because the department implemented an additional review process for fatalities “to ensure data integrity.”
The latest data update includes cases detailed between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. For all day Wednesday, officials counted 5,489 cases among residents, the median age of whom was 38.
Seven of the previous 14 days have seen percent positivity rates above 5%, including one day with an error that caused duplicate data. On Tuesday, the percent positivity rate was 6.7%, a second day of increase and the highest rate since Aug. 24. On Wednesday, the positivity rate dropped to 5.6%.
The Governor’s Office has noticed a recent uptick in the number of new positives. Before the uptick in positivity rates, Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ communications director, Fred Piccolo, told Florida Politics that newly available rapid tests could be inspiring interest in testing. But he also acknowledged Phase Three and the full reopening of restaurants as probable factors driving an increase in cases.
The recent increase also comes after the state began initial talks on how low cases would need to go to drop the daily report’s frequency to weekly. Piccolo says there is no consensus yet and a decision is not imminent.
Some experts say a community should maintain rates below 5% for 14 days before reopening services like schools.
But DeSantis in past months has instead shifted the state’s focus away from the raw count and percent positivity rates. Instead, he has pointed to hospital visits with symptoms related to COVID-19 as his preferred metric.
Two weeks ago, the Department of Health reported its first week-over increase in hospital visits since the week of July 5, when visits peaked at 15,999. But hospital visits dropped from 4,912 that week to 4,181 last week.
Overall, 47,765 Floridians have been hospitalized, an increase of 137 since Wednesday’s report. The Agency for Health Care Administration reports that 2,069 people are currently hospitalized with the disease, a slight decrease in active hospitalizations since Wednesday afternoon.
In total, 5.8 million Floridians have been tested for COVID-19, as have 22,579 non-residents in the state.
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, consider 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 nonresidents 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.