Florida reports highest single-day total of coronavirus cases


JUNE 11, 2020

Zoe Love hands out free brownies in honor of Sister Robin’s birthday for Sister Robin’s street market at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday evening June 10, 2020. Regulars come by every Wednesday to collect fresh produce. Jennifer Lett South Florida Sun Sentinel

MIAMI — Florida’s Department of Health on Thursday morning confirmed 1,698 additional cases of COVID-19, the highest reported in a single day since the pandemic began. The state now has a total of 69,069 confirmed cases.

There were also 47 new deaths announced, raising the statewide toll to 2,848.

Previously, the highest daily count of newly confirmed cases was on June 4, when 1,419 cases were announced.

Florida slowly began to reopen in May. Now in June, most businesses across the state are open at limited capacity with social distancing regulations in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

And Florida is one of 19 states that have seen a rise in new cases over the past week compared to the previous week, CNN reported early Thursday after analyzing Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Since June 3, Florida has reported totals surpassing 1,000 every day but one. Monday briefly broke the trend when 966 cases were announced, before it picked back up again.

And on Monday, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security noted in a report that Florida “continues to report elevated and increasing daily incidence. In fact, its 7-day average is approximately equal to its peak in early April and is still increasing.”

But Florida health officials told the Miami Herald last week that the rise of daily total increases this month were tied to an increase of testing and pointed toward the state’s positive test rate, which has seen some decline since the shutdown.

While a lower positive test rate is a good sign, University of Florida epidemiology professor Cindy Prins says people still need to remember that it’s still unclear who is being tested.

“Are we talking about people who are being tested because they have symptoms?” Prins told Herald news partner WLRN earlier this week. “Are we talking about people who are being tested because now all sudden they have access, and they can go through the drive-thru testing, and find out whether or not they’re positive, even though they don’t have symptom?”

Thursday’s testing results were not immediately available. Florida’s Department of Health was not immediately available for comment on the case increase.

More than half of the state’s known COVID-19 cases are in South Florida’s four counties: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe. Miami-Dade continues to lead the state with the most confirmed cases and deaths. It has 20,548 known cases and 798 deaths.

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

The health department says it does not “have a figure” to reflect the number of people currently hospitalized and only provides the total number of hospitalizations in its statewide and county-level data. On Thursday, 226 hospitalizations were added, raising the statewide total count to 11,571.

While Florida’s Department of Health is not releasing current statewide hospitalization data to the public, hospitals in Miami-Dade are self-reporting a number of key metrics, including hospitalizations, to the county, which has made this data public. Some provide updates every day; others don’t.

Seventy-nine people were discharged and 49 people were admitted to Miami-Dade hospitals on Wednesday, bringing the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 complications to 576, according to Miami-Dade County’s “New Normal” dashboard data.

Scientists are also still working to learn more about the virus, including how many people in the community are infected and have mild or no symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine what percentage of the cases hospitalizations represent.

Testing in Florida has seen steady growth since the COVID-19 crisis began and the state has seen a steady decline in the percentage of people testing positive, a key indicator that experts rely on to determine whether the pandemic is waning or worsening.

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

The recommended number of daily tests needed varies among experts, but the dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine told the governor that Florida needs to test about 33,000 people every day. The state has hit or surpassed the recommended mark a few times but is typically several thousand under.

Florida’s Department of Health reported 20,720 new tests in Wednesday’s daily COVID-19 update. In total, the state has performed 1,280,003 tests. Of the total tested, 67,371 (about 5.26%) have tested positive. The state says there are 1,135 tests with pending results. Thursday’s testing data was not immediately available.

However, unlike hospitalization data that can give researchers a real-time visual on how the novel coronavirus is affecting the community, testing might be limited or take days to report results.

Health experts have previously told the Herald that they were concerned the number of pending results listed by the state is an undercount. This is because Florida’s Health Department only announces the number of pending test results from state labs, not private ones — and private labs are completing more than 90% of state tests.

Previously, it has taken as long as two weeks for pending test results from private labs to be added into the state’s official count, making it difficult for officials to project the size and scale of the pandemic in the state. It’s unclear how quickly results are currently being sent to the state from private labs, as the turnaround time varies by lab.

Courtesy/Source: Miami Herald