Officials report 106 deaths, 7,711 new cases, as pandemic continues in Florida

Skull in a medical mask isolated on black background . The concept of an epidemic. Coronavirus protection equipment.
19,529 people have died with COVID-19 in Florida

State health officials reported 106 fatalities tied to the coronavirus and confirmed 7,711 cases in an update issued Monday.

As of the Department of Health’s latest report, 19,529 people have died with COVID-19 in Florida. That death toll is composed of 247 nonresidents, including one whose death officials reported Monday, and 19,282 Floridians, 105 of whom were announced Monday.

The update marks the second time since October that department recorded more than 100 dead residents. On Friday, officials reported 120 deaths.

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

DOH also showed 7,711 new coronavirus infections identified between Sunday and Monday morning. Overall, 1,065,785 people have tested positive in Florida, including 17,521 nonresidents.

As coronavirus outbreaks continue across the country, the Sunshine State is also witnessing a surge in cases. Between Wednesday and Saturday, the department reported four consecutive days with new cases totaling nearly 10,000 each day. And on Tuesday, Florida became the third state to record more than 1 million cases.

For all-day Sunday, the latest complete day available, officials counted 7,575 cases from 111,745 residents tested. Among the new positives, the median age was 40.

The department typically reports fewer new cases on Sundays and Mondays, days with new data that almost exclusively covers updates received over the weekend. Officials receive fewer results during weekends.

An increase in new cases was expected following Thanksgiving with heightened travel and gatherings. In addition to the rise in new cases, a possible spike was unfolding in the state’s positivity rates, but positivity rates fell last week.

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 Monday, the rate was back down to 7.6%.

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 six 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 8,764 two weeks ago to 7,647 last week. Officials may still update last week’s count and instead show an increase, as has happened in recent weeks.

As of Monday, 56,607 Floridians have been hospitalized after DOH recorded 150 new hospitalizations. The Agency for Health Care Administration reports that 4,495 people are currently hospitalized with the disease, an increase since the end of last week.

Florida, the third most populous state, is only behind California and Texas in the total count of new cases. Officials in California have reported 1.37 million cases while officials in Texas have confirmed 1.26 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.”

On Monday, the Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that officers raided the home of former DOH Division of Disease Control and Health Protection geographic information systems manager Rebekah Jones, who curated the department’s coronavirus dashboard before she was fired for what the DeSantis administration described as repeated insubordination. The search stemmed from an emergency systems breech that officers say originated from Jones’ home.

Text messages were went using a custom-made DOH program used only to notify state workers in emergency conditions.

“it’s time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late,” the text blast said, according to an FDLE affidavit.

Jones has been a prominent DeSantis critic, appearing in the national media to slam his coronavirus response. She will appear on CNN during Chris Cuomo‘s Prime Time Monday evening.

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.

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    December 10, 2020 at 6:08 am

    Yes but Duffus Desantis does not care! Duffus Desantis is willingly slaughtering Floridians with the goptrump Nazi herd immunity strategy! Vote Duffus Desantis the hell out of office in 2022!

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