Florida reported 16,610 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed over the Christmas holiday — Thursday and Friday — according to data released by the Florida Department of Health on Saturday.
The state also recorded 140 new deaths and 188 additional hospitalizations over the two days. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has seen 1,243,118 confirmed cases and 21,135 deaths.
The department did not release a daily report on Friday, taking a break in observance of the Christmas holiday. The Friday break marks only the second time since the start of the pandemic in March that the department has opted not to release a daily report — the first break was on Thanksgiving when the data was released the following Friday.
In the latest report, the state confirmed 10,650 cases on Thursday, and only 5,961 cases on Friday. The Friday dip comes as expected since only 68,507 test results were returned on the holiday, compared to the recent average of around 125,000. Of the tests received on Christmas, 8% were positive, keeping with the state’s two-week average of 8.54%.
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.
However, COVID-19 cases and deaths reported by state health officials can sometimes be reported days or weeks later.
There is some good news, though. Earlier this month, the nation kicked off what could be the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Gov. Ron DeSantis was at Tampa General Hospital to sign for Florida’s first vaccine delivery and looked on as the first front-line worker received a vaccine.
After receiving about 180,000 Pfizer vaccine doses, Florida received 120,000 more the following 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.
People 65 and older, as well as people who hospitals deem extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, will be the next cohort to be vaccinated.
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.
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.