Florida health officials say the state has reached a grim milestone: more than 200,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the start of the outbreak.
State statistics released Sunday show an additional 10,000 confirmed cases. The highest number of confirmed cases in one day came Saturday, when more than 11,400 cases were reported. More than 3,700 people have died.
About 43 percent of the cases are in three counties: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said Sunday on ABC News This Week that the high numbers of positive tests both in his county and in the state are “extremely worrisome.”
“It’s clear that the growth is exponential at this point,” he said. “Our county closed down the beaches for the July Fourth weekend in the hopes that all these rules will have an impact – a positive impact. It takes a little bit of time to find out exactly but we’re obviously very closely monitoring hospitalizations and we’re very, very closely monitoring the death rate, which our lagging indicators that give us the impression that we have to take much stricter – much stricter measurements – measures.”
Suarez had the virus in March.
Florida’s death count is the ninth highest in the country overall and the 27th highest per capita at 17.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
There were 451.9 new reported cases per 100,000 people in Florida over the past two weeks, which ranks second in the country for new cases per capita.
Also in Florida:
- Four Miami Marlins baseball players and a third Miami Heat basketball player have tested positive.
- Four Pinellas County hospitals were without any space in their intensive care units Saturday, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
- People of color have been overwhelmingly and disproportionately affected by the coronavirus on the Treasure Coast, a TCPalm data analysis found. While only a third of the general population’s racial identity is something other than non-Hispanic white, 85% of the coronavirus cases in June were people of color, the paper found.
Friday’s statistics of the county showed more than 1,300 COVID patients in Miami hospitals. Of those, 281 were in intensive-care beds, occupying about 63% of the ICU beds that would be otherwise available.
The state’s health department releases a daily cumulative tally of new hospitalizations of people who test positive for the virus, but does not provide statewide numbers of COVID-19 patients currently in hospitals, ICU beds or on ventilators. Ventilator use and ICU occupancy are key indicators of the severity of the outbreak because not everyone who becomes infected with the coronavirus develop serious symptoms.
The state releases daily reports on available ICU beds, statewide, by county and by individual hospital – but those numbers don’t include how many are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Statewide, about 20% of beds were available Friday, though some hospitals had additional capacity that could be turned into ICU units if need be.
Health officials said they would begin releasing daily updates with more hospitalization data soon, but a spokesperson said Friday he did not know when.
Meanwhile, a group of legislators urged Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday to require Floridians wear masks. The group of 10 Democratic lawmakers includes state Rep. Shevrin Jones, a South Florida lawmaker who announced Tuesday that he had been infected by the coronavirus.
They want the governor to make it mandatory for Floridians to wear masks to cover their noses and mouths while in public spaces, indoors and outdoors, when social distancing isn’t possible. The governor has thus far resisted those calls, even as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, another Republican, moved to do so on Thursday.
“This is not a partisan issue; this is an issue of life and death,” the legislators said in a letter to DeSantis. “This small but important gesture will have big consequences for the greater good.”
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