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New COVID cases in Florida soared again this week, as hospitals filled up and conflicts resumed over whether to force people to wear masks.
The state reported 110,477 new cases, up from 73,199 last week, according to a report released late Friday afternoon by the Florida Department of Health. The test positivity rate, a statistic that may be more significant than the raw number of new cases, climbed from 15.1% to 18.1%.
The number of deaths reported this week is unclear. The Health Department report gives a figure of 108 deaths reported for the week. But subtracting last week’s cumulative death total of 38,670 from this week’s total of 39,079 yields 409 deaths for the week.
After months of optimism generated by the wide distribution of vaccines, the COVID picture in the United States has quickly darkened. Case numbers have skyrocketed, driven by infections among unvaccinated people and the highly contagious Delta variant, with hospitals reporting sharp increases in admissions.
Businesses and local governments, including the Broward County school district, have responded by reviving masking requirements. But Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed an executive order outlawing school mask mandates, saying he would leave the decision up to parents.
“If you listen to some of the stuff that’s being percolated around the CDC, there’s a movement to try to impose more restrictions on the American people,” DeSantis said to a crowd at an Italian restaurant in Cape Coral. “And I just want to say in Florida, there will be no lockdowns. There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions or mandates in the state of Florida.”
For the week ending July 29, Florida reported 110,477 new cases, up from 73,199 new cases a week earlier and 45,604 new cases two weeks earlier. The largest number of new COVID cases reported by the state were found among people 30 to 39 years old, an age group that reported 14,189 new cases.
In total, 2,590,699 people in Florida have tested positive for COVID.
- Palm Beach County on Friday reported 5,948 additional cases up from 3,972 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 162,883.
- Broward County on Friday reported 9,094 additional cases up from 6,105 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 268,398.
- Miami-Dade County on Friday reported 15,541 new cases up from 11,104 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 542,481.
Public health experts say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. Florida often has exceeded 5% in its widely publicized calculation for assessing the rate for testing of residents.
The state reported a positivity rate of 18.1% on Friday, compared to 15.1% a week earlier This method of calculating positivity counts new infections only but also counts repeat negative tests, which skews the figure downward.
In South Florida, the new case positivity rate was 14% up from 10.9% a week earlier in Broward, 15.5% up from 12.5% in Palm Beach and 12.1% up from 10.1% in Miami-Dade.
Across the state, 7,072 people were hospitalized for COVID as of July 26, compared with 4,249 people for the seven-day period ending July 19, according to the newest White House report. Another 1,539 people who are hospitalized are suspected of having COVID but their status has not been confirmed.
As new COVID cases continue to increase, Florida hospitals are seeing a seven-fold increase from the 1,724 people who were hospitalized with COVID-19 only a month ago on June 22.
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Hospital leaders are reporting 95% to 98% of adult hospitalizations are people who are unvaccinated and between 30 and 60 years old.
As of Friday, Florida shows 39,079 people in Florida have died from COVID-19, an additional 409 people from last week when the state reported 38,670 total COVID deaths.
About 61% of Florida’s population is vaccinated with one or more doses.
As of Friday, more than 11.75 million Floridians have had one or more doses of a COVID vaccine.
In Florida, 1.7 million people have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 10 million have completed the series of two doses required to be fully vaccinated.
Florida reported an increase in vaccines administered for the week starting July 23 ― 334,064 doses compared to 288,870 a week earlier.