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Florida appears to be emerging from the worst of the delta wave with health officials reporting 100,012 new COVID cases for the week ending Sept. 9, a 34% decline from the total new cases just two weeks ago.
Another sign of improvement: The positivity rate declined to 13.5% from 15.2% a week earlier.
Deaths, however, continue to rise. Florida reported one of its highest weekly numbers with 2,448 additional deaths from COVID, a jump from 2,325 additional deaths reported a week earlier and 1,727 additional deaths reported two weeks ago. Because of a lag, Florida’s daily death counts this week reflect the aftermath of record hospitalizations seen two to three weeks ago.
The death toll includes all ages: The majority are people 65 or older, but 324 deaths have occurred in people younger than 29. Of those younger deaths, 69 were reported in the last seven days. Deaths can take several days or weeks to be reported to the state.
The total COVID deaths in Florida have reached 48,772, with the majority occurring over the summer months. Experts say it may be several more weeks before the deaths from COVID decline.
With the new school year underway, Florida health officials reported 31,112 new cases in children under 19, a decline from 43,244 new COVID cases among people 19 or younger a week earlier.
Not only are children getting infected, but some are also getting severely sick from the virus. For four children this week, the virus proved fatal, the state report shows.
Texas surpassed Florida this week for the first time as the state with the most new COVID cases in the last seven days, according to federal health data. Texas had 12.4% of the country’s total new cases and Florida had 10.5%.
Throughout the pandemic, a total of 3,409,165 people in the state have had COVID.
All three South Florida counties saw a drop in new cases over the last week.
- Palm Beach County on Friday reported 5,548 additional cases, down from 6,863 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 210,204.
- Broward County on Friday reported 7,108 additional cases, down from 8,949 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 336,741.
- Miami-Dade County on Friday reported 9,733 additional cases, down from 12,163 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 642,199.
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.
While the positivity rate remains high, the state may be moving in a better direction. Health officials reported a statewide positivity rate of 13.5% on Friday, down from 15.2% a week prior and 16.8% 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 9.4%, down from 10.5% a week earlier; in Palm Beach, it was 11.6%, down from 12.6% a week earlier; and in Miami-Dade, it was 6.5% down from 8.1% a week earlier.
Florida’s hospitals are beginning to see an improvement in COVID admissions.
As of Friday, 12,651 COVID patients were admitted, compared to 14,577 COVID patients a week ago.
Healthcare workers are seeing some relief in their overcrowded COVID wards. On Friday, COVID patients occupied 21% of the beds compared with 25% a week ago.
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There also is improvement in COVID patients needing intensive care. As of Friday, 91% of ICU beds are full compared with 95% just two weeks ago.
Hospitals report COVID patients are younger than in prior waves and mostly unvaccinated.
Floridians received another 40,630 booster shots in the last seven days, bringing the total additional shots to 228,335.
In Florida, more than 13.2 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Of those, 11 million are fully vaccinated, 2 million have received one shot.
The most heavily vaccinated age group in Florida is 65 and older, which is 88% vaccinated, followed by the 60-64 age group, which is 82% vaccinated. The 20-29 age group is the least vaccinated, at 50%. Florida’s teens 12 to 19 are 52% vaccinated.
Sun Sentinel health reporter Cindy Goodman can be reached at email@example.com.