COVID in Florida: New cases and positivity rate drop sharply

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Oct 15, 2021 6:29 PM

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Florida’s COVID-19 cases and positivity rate plunged again this week, adding momentum to the recovery from the state’s summer ordeal with the disease.

The number of new cases dropped to 19,519, down from 25,792 the previous week, according to a report released Friday by the Florida Department of Health. Perhaps more significant, the test positivity rate fell to 3.8%, a full percentage point lower than last week’s rate.

This is the second week in a row to see a positivity rate below 5%, the benchmark number used by epidemiologists to gauge what public health measures should be in place. At its worst, Florida’s test positivity climbed as high as 20.5% for the week ending Aug 19.

The total number of deaths rose by 1,192.

The number of people vaccinated grew by 71,500, but that’s an increase of less than half a percent. The total number to receive at least one dose stood at nearly 13.8 million, about 72% of the eligible population. Counties in the panhandle have the lowest vaccination rates in the state while Miami Dade and Broward counties have the highest rates.

Throughout the pandemic, a total of 3,620,562 people in the state have had COVID.

  • Palm Beach County on Friday reported 1,430 additional cases, down from 1,744 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 223,197.
  • Broward County on Friday reported 1,943 additional cases, down from 2,526 the week before. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 354,108.
  • Miami-Dade County on Friday reported 3,033 additional cases, down from 3,816 a week earlier. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 667,933.

Public health experts say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. Until the past two weeks, Florida had exceeded 5% in its widely publicized calculation for assessing the rate for testing of residents for the last three months.

Health officials reported a statewide positivity rate of 3.8% on Friday, down from 4.8% a week ago and 6.5% two weeks ago. 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 declined in all three counties.

In Broward, it was 3.4%, down from 4.3% a week earlier; in Palm Beach County, it was 4.1%, down from 5% a week earlier; and in Miami-Dade, it was 2.2%, down from 2.9% a week earlier.

Florida has seen a major improvement in COVID hospitalizations. As of Friday, 3,257 COVID patients were admitted compared to 4,240 COVID patients a week ago.

Health care workers are seeing some relief in their overcrowded COVID wards. On Friday, COVID patients occupied 5.8% of beds compared to 9.3% two weeks ago.

There also is improvement in COVID patients needing intensive care. As of Friday, 79.7% of ICU beds were full compared with 95% in the last week of August. Of those beds that are full, 14% were occupied by COVID patients, down from 17% last week.

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Hospitals report patients are younger than in prior waves and mostly unvaccinated.

The delta wave triggered an increase in vaccination. Now that new cases are lower, fewer Floridians are rushing to get COVID vaccines. The number of COVID doses given out in the last week has declined significantly to 243,220, compared with 311,720 last week.

Floridians received another 105,114 booster shots in the last seven days, bringing the total booster doses to 748,436.

Nearly 13.8 million people in Florida have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Of those, 11.3 million are fully vaccinated; 1.7 million have received one shot.

The most heavily vaccinated age group in Florida is 65 and older, which is 89% vaccinated, followed by the 60 to 64 age group, which is 84% vaccinated. The 20 to 29 age group is the least vaccinated, at 54%. Florida’s teens 12 to 19 are 55% vaccinated.

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