COVID-19 in Florida: New infections up for third straight day

            New coronavirus cases in Florida have been up each day of October so far, according to a pandemic data report released by state officials Saturday.

            The latest tally shows another 2,811 people have tested positive for COVID-19, which is up from 2,660 infections reported Friday, 2,628 new cases on Thursday, and 1,948 cases Wednesday.


            But these numbers are in line with virus statistics from the past four weeks, with some days having over 3,000 new cases and other days with fewer than 2,000 cases. The lowest recent total was 738 infections reported Monday, three days after the state accelerated its coronavirus reopenings to phase 3.

            Overall, Florida has reported that a total of 714,615 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. That’s the third highest total in the U.S., behind only California, with 817,277 cases, and Texas, with 756,004 cases, according to The COVID Tracking Project.


            Meanwhile, the much-watched daily COVID-19 testing positivity rate for Florida remains under 5%, based on a calculation used by government officials. Public health experts say the virus is under control at this level.

            The positivity rate on Saturday came in at 4.79%, up from 3.75% the previous day. This figure reflects only new infections based on COVID-19 testing for the day; it does not count people who previously tested positive for the disease.

            With this formula, the state has been below 5% for 10 consecutive days. The state report said it received results 63,829 COVID-19 test results in the previous day, including people who have had previous tests. That’s down from 77,612 results the day before.

            But other tallies show a higher rate depending on the source and method. For example, Johns Hopkins University reported Florida’s daily positivity rate at an average of 10.9% for the past 14 days.

            The Florida Department of Health on Saturday also reported another 74 residents have died from COVID-19 complications.

            Most of the deaths listed on the state’s daily statistical reports did not happen in the last 24 hours. There is usually a lag of several weeks between the date of death and confirmation as a virus fatality. Test results also take days to be tabulated.

            The seven-day average is about 92 deaths and 2,300 cases per day.

            South Florida

            Broward County: 134 additional confirmed coronavirus cases were reported Saturday. The county has tallied a total of 77,765 cases and 1,441 deaths; for unexplained reasons, it is one fewer death than the state reported on Friday.

            Miami-Dade County: 488 additional cases and 15 more fatalities were reported Saturday. The county has had a pandemic total of 171,879 cases and 3,350 deaths.

            Palm Beach County: 131 additional cases of COVID-19 were reported Saturday. The county has had 46,964 confirmed cases and 1,413 deaths linked to the disease. Two more deaths were reported since Friday.

            Dr. Alina Alonso, health director for Palm Beach County, urged the community on Friday to remain vigilant in the fight against the virus.

            “I have faith that we can depend on you to continue to do the right thing and you are now the most important agent in terms of keeping the spread of this virus down,” she said at a news conference. “As long as we continue to wear our masks and we stay at least the six foot distancing, we wash our hands, we use sanitizers ...we can keep these numbers low and continue to be able to mitigate this virus and keep it from affecting our vulnerable (elderly) population.”


            Alonso also said the greatest percentage of new infections in the county have been people in the 15-to-24-year-old age range, which she blamed on careless actions by area university students when they are off campus.

            “What we’re asking the students to do is self-regulate," she said. “Don’t go into that crowded bar ... stay away from those areas.”

            Testing and positivity rates

            At least 5.38 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in Florida since the pandemic began, producing an overall positivity rate of 13.27%, state data show. At least 714,615 people have tested positive and 4.66 million people have tested negative.

            In South Florida, the cumulative positivity rates are 18.48% for Miami-Dade County, 13.48% for Broward County and 12.56% for Palm Beach County.

            As of Saturday, 930,115 people have been swabbed in Miami-Dade, 576,811 people have been tested in Broward, and 373,758 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Palm Beach County.

            The daily positivity rates are 2.85% for Broward County, a decrease from 2.87% the day before; 3.48% for Palm Beach County, up from 2.42%; and 5.64% for Miami-Dade County, up from 5.13%. This is just for new infections only.

            Child infections

            The latest Florida data concerning COVID-19 infections among children under age 18 show 452,082 have been swabbed since the beginning of the pandemic. About 13.1% of them, or 59,281, tested positive, according to a report out Saturday.

            Records show an increase of 1,734 cases over one week; 503 of these new cases were counted in South Florida’s biggest counties.

            Overall, the data show 12,613 cases among children in Miami-Dade County, most in the state, followed by 8,046 cases in Broward. There have been 3,672 confirmed infections in Palm Beach County kids.

            The statewide report also shows 746 children have been treated in hospitals for COVID-19 illness since March; nine have died. The death total was unchanged in the past week.


            As of 1 p.m. Saturday, 2,036 people across the state were hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19. The number is down 20 since 2 p.m. Friday.

            Broward County reported 207 patients hospitalized, an increase of three; Palm Beach County had 99, which is down by six; and Miami-Dade had the most in the state with 262, a decrease of 15.

            The online report from the state Agency for Health Care Administration updates several times throughout the day. Hospitalizations hit a peak in late July of more than 9,000 patients.

            Since the pandemic began, a total of 44,623 residents have been hospitalized for the disease in Florida, according to a separate report by the state health department.


            Statewide: The official COVID-19 report, updated Saturday, shows 14,628 Florida resident deaths. In addition, 175 non-resident deaths have been attributed to the virus in the state. The state does not say whether the victims had underlying health conditions.

            Florida’s COVID-19 death rate is eleventh among states in the nation, with 68 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s higher than the national rate of 63 deaths per 100,000 people.

            Long-term care facilities: At least 5,953 deaths have occurred among residents and staff of nursing homes and assisted-living centers throughout Florida. That’s 18 more than reported Friday.


            Miami-Dade County has had the highest number of deaths at long-term care facilities, with 808; Palm Beach County is up to 608 deaths; and Broward has had 409 deaths.


            National and global view

            U.S.: More than 7.36 million people in the country have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 209,162 have died as of about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

            World: At least 34.7 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,030,321 people have died from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins. The United States has had the most COVID-19 cases and deaths of any country. The U.S. has 4.3% of the world’s population, but 21.2% of the world’s cases and 20.3% of the world’s deaths.

            This is a developing story, so check back for updates. Click here to have breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.

            Marc Freeman can be reached at mjfreeman@sunsentinel.com and on Twitter @marcjfreeman.