Florida records largest single day jump in COVID-19 diagnoses since July

Stay home Christmas gingerbread men with a masks
State health officials say 10,870 people tested positive.

State health officials counted 10,870 new coronavirus infections since Wednesday’s pandemic report, making Thursday’s update the largest single-day spike since July. The last time that many people tested positive in the Sunshine State was July 25, when officials recorded 12,199 new cases.

In Florida, 1,029,030 people have tested positive for the virus, including 16,574 nonresidents.

Thursday’s influx of cases is also not an isolated occurrence. On Wednesday, officials reported nearly 10,000 cases. Thanksgiving likely saw more than 10,000 new cases, but new data from that day wasn’t reported until Friday.

Officials confirmed the fatalities of another 98 Floridians, raising the death toll to 18,874, and added two nonresident deaths, now 238.

Thursday’s new data includes cases detailed between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning. For all-day Wednesday, officials counted 10,699 cases from 146,910 residents tested. Among the new positives, the median age was 40.

The new cases reported Wednesday mark the most new positives reported in a single day since Thanksgiving, which was expected to cause an uptick in outbreaks with heightened travel and gatherings. In addition to the rise in new cases, a possible spike is already unfolding in the state’s positivity rates.

The positivity rate for new cases began increasing again the day after Thanksgiving, nearly neutralizing two weeks of improvements since positivity rates topped 10% last month. That day, the positivity rate was down to 6.2% but returned to 9.1% Tuesday, the highest since mid-November. On Wednesday, the positivity rate was 8.2%.

Notably, COVID-19 cases and deaths reported by state health officials can sometimes be reported days or weeks later.

Over the summer, Gov. Ron DeSantis shifted the state’s data focus away from the raw count and percent positivity rates, pointing instead to hospital visits with symptoms related to COVID-19 as his preferred metric.

After peaking at 15,999 coronavirus-related hospitalizations the week of July 5, DOH reported that hospitalizations declined. For five consecutive weeks as of two weeks ago, the state has recorded week-over increases in hospitalizations.

Last week showed a downturn in new hospitalizations, from 7,858 two weeks ago to 6,817 last week. Officials may still update last week’s count and instead show an increase, as has happened in recent weeks.

As of Thursday, 55,820 Floridians have been hospitalized after DOH recorded 253 new hospitalizations, a relatively large increase for the state. The Agency for Health Care Administration reports that 4,290 people are currently hospitalized with the disease, an increase of 42 in about 24 hours.

Florida, the third most populous state, is only behind California and Texas in the total count of new cases. Officials in California have reported 1.21 million cases while officials in Texas have confirmed 1.17 million cases.

The United States has seen a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases that has disproportionately affected the Upper Midwest. According to figures released Thursday, more than 3,100 people died across the nation, the first time that many Americans have died from the virus in one day.

On Tuesday, Florida crossed 1 million coronavirus infections. Nine months prior, after officials confirmed the first COVID-19 cases in Florida on March 1, DeSantis ordered Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to declare a public health emergency in the state. Eight days after the emergency declaration, DeSantis issued a state of emergency, and both orders remain ongoing.

After the initial outbreak of new cases, at a time when access to coronavirus testing was low, officials had identified about 20,000 COVID-19 cases in Florida, recording just over 1,300 cases in a single day. After outbreaks subsided throughout April and May, cases began spiking in June and peaked at more than 15,000 cases in mid-July. In July alone, officials confirmed more than 300,000 new cases and the state’s total reached 470,386 by the end of the month.

Since October, cases have been on the rise again. The latest resurgence in coronavirus outbreaks has been a gradual increase in daily cases as opposed to the spike observed in the summer.

During his first press conference since the beginning of the month, the Governor on Monday announced that schools would remain open during the spring semester and reaffirmed his opposition to lockdowns and mask mandates. He added that preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distributions has been a priority since mid-November.

“Now that there’s a vaccine on the horizon, people say even with a vaccine social distance until 2022. No way. That is just totally overboard,” DeSantis said. “It just shows you how the goal posts have moved, and I think innocent people have been caught up in this.”

On Wednesday, the Governor briefed Floridians on his vaccine distribution plan in a video posted to YouTube and on Twitter. He said the Sunshine State will prioritize its most vulnerable residents and cautioned that no state will have vaccines available for everyone “off the bat.”

Also Monday, a coalition of pro-business groups released its recommendations on how to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, including that legal liability and reform issues should be addressed “as quickly as possible.” The task force’s other findings include creating a personal protective equipment database, a wage classification for “essential workers” and job training programs, and amending Florida’s tax code to “ensure consistency” between online marketplaces and Florida retailers with e-fairness legislation.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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