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State health officials reported 121 deaths and 11,384 COVID-19 diagnoses Wednesday as Florida records another day with more than 10,000 new cases.
The Department of Health shows a total of 1,234,399 positive cases and 21,173 deaths. Of those cases, 20,639 are nonresidents, as are 299 of the deaths.
Officials on Saturday began publishing the number of people who have been vaccinated in the Sunshine State. Through Wednesday morning, 68,133 people have been vaccinated, an increase of 18,201 since Tuesday.
Daily new cases have routinely topped 10,000, and Florida became the third state to record more than 1 million cases this month.
For all-day Tuesday, the latest complete day available, officials counted 11,054 cases from 147,060 residents tested. Among the new positives, the median age was 42.
An increase in new cases was expected following Thanksgiving, as with the coming holidays, 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 rates have since been fluctuating.
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% Dec. 1 and 9.3% Tuesday, the highest since mid-November. On Tuesday, the positivity rate had fallen to 8.6%.
However, 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 eight 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 9,632 two weeks ago to 9,529 last week. Officials may still update last week’s count and instead show an increase, as has happened in recent weeks.
As of Wednesday, 60,800 Floridians have been hospitalized after DOH recorded 329 new hospitalizations, a new normal in the daily increase. The Agency for Health Care Administration reports that 5,590 people are currently hospitalized with the disease, a decrease of 43 since Tuesday afternoon after the state saw a significant increase over the weekend.
Last week, the nation kicked off what could be the beginning of the end of the pandemic. DeSantis was at Tampa General Hospital to sign for Florida’s first vaccine delivery and looked on as the first frontline worker received a vaccine.
After receiving about 180,000 Pfizer vaccine doses last week, Florida received 120,000 more this week as well as 367,000 of Moderna’s formula.
DeSantis also confirmed Monday that he would not take the vaccine ahead of schedule, as some other officials have in Florida and across the country. He reiterated that Wednesday at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola.
“It makes no sense for someone that’s 42 to jump ahead of someone that is 70 years old,” the Governor told reporters. “You can look at the data on this, it’s very clear. I want to make sure that if there’s one dose here in Pensacola left for this week, I want it to go to an elderly. I don’t want it to go to me.”
People 65 and older as well as people hospitals deem extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 will be the next cohort to be vaccinated.
The United States has seen a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases that has disproportionately affected the Upper Midwest.
Florida, the third most populous state, is only behind California and Texas in the total count of new cases. Officials in California have reported 1.96 million cases, including a record high 53,711 in an update last week, while officials in Texas have confirmed 1.43 million cases.
Nine months prior to crossing 1 million infections, 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.