Florida adds 13,000 COVID cases for second day in a row; death toll hits 20,401

Michelle Marchante and Devoun Cetoute
Miami Herald

Miami – Florida’s Department of Health on Friday confirmed 13,000 additional cases of COVID-19, marking the second day in a row that the state’s single-day case count reflects numbers not seen since mid-July.

The state now has 1,181,483 confirmed cases. Also, 96 resident deaths were announced, bringing the statewide resident toll to 20,401.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vows to keep restaurants open during COVID-19 at a news conference at Okeechobee Steakhouse in West Palm Beach, Florida.

It is still unclear if there were any new non-resident deaths. On Thursday, the cumulative non-resident toll was 289.

On Thursday, Florida reported 13,148 new cases, the most seen since July 16, when 13,965 cases were added. The state reported more – 17,344 cases – on Nov. 27, but that total included two days of data because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

► Miami-Dade County reported 2,461 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12 new deaths, according to Florida’s Department of Health. This is the 10th day in a row that Miami-Dade has reported more than 2,000 cases. The county now has 269,716 confirmed cases and 4,034 deaths. The percent positivity for new cases decreased from 8.84% to 8.16%.

► Broward County reported 1,347 additional confirmed cases and three new deaths. The county’s known total is now at 125,338 cases and 1,763 deaths. The percent positivity for new cases increased from 7.15% to 7.25%.

► Palm Beach County saw 783 additional confirmed cases and 12 new deaths. The county has 75,572 confirmed cases and 1,816 deaths. The percent positivity for new cases increased from 7.27% to 7.33%.

►– Monroe County confirmed 34 additional cases and no new deaths. The county has a known total of 3,969 cases and 32 deaths. The percent positivity for new cases decreased from 10.55% to 8.62%.

One of the tools that officials rely on to determine whether the coronavirus situation is improving in the state is hospitalization data. Unlike testing, which might be limited or takes days to report results, hospitalizations can help give officials a real-time snapshot of how many people are severely ill with COVID-19.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration reports the number of patients hospitalized statewide with a “primary diagnosis of COVID.” The data, which is updated at least every hour, does not distinguish between the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units and those in acute-care beds, which require less attention from nurses.

Previously, the state was providing only the total number of hospitalizations in its statewide and county-level data. Miami-Dade was an exception, with hospitals self-reporting a number of key metrics, including hospitalizations, to the county, which has made this data public for several months.

As of 3:16 p.m. Friday, there were 5,182 COVID-19 patients admitted into hospitals throughout the state, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration dashboard. This number is at mid-August levels, when more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients were admitted into hospitals throughout the state.

Of Friday’s hospitalizations, 943 were in Miami-Dade, 531 in Broward, 272 in Palm Beach and three in Monroe, according to the agency.

The state has had a total of 59,602 Florida residents hospitalized for COVID-19-related complications, according to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.

Testing in Florida has seen steady growth since the COVID-19 crisis began.

Testing, like hospitalizations, helps officials determine the virus’ progress and plays a role in deciding whether it is safe to lift stay-at-home orders and loosen restrictions.

Epidemiologists use the testing data to create a positivity rate. The rate helps them determine if a rise in cases is because of an increase in testing or whether there’s increased transmission of the virus in the community.

On Friday, Florida’s Department of Health reported the results of 169,137 people tested on Thursday. The positivity rate of new cases (people who tested positive for the first time) slightly increased from 8.70% to 8.75%.

If retests are included, the positivity rate increased from 10.38% to 10.62%.