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With another drop in new COVID cases for the week, Florida appears to have turned the tide on the delta variant.
On Friday, Florida health officials reported 75,906 new COVID cases for the week ending Sept. 16, a decline from 100,012 new COVID cases for the week ending Sept. 9.
Another sign of improvement: The positivity rate declined to 11.2% from 13.5% a week earlier.
Deaths, however, continue to rise. Florida reported one of its highest weekly numbers with 2,468 additional deaths from COVID-19, up from 2,448 additional deaths reported a week earlier. Because of a lag, Florida’s daily death counts this week reflect the aftermath of record hospitalizations seen two to three weeks ago.
With the new deaths added to the total count, Florida has hit a grim milestone: More than 50,000 people in the state have died from the virus. About a fourth of those succumbing to the virus did so this summer as the state battled a fierce surge in new cases fueled by the delta variant.
The death toll includes all ages: The majority are people 65 or older, but 359 deaths have occurred in people younger than 29. Of those younger deaths, 35 were reported in the last seven days. Deaths can take several days or weeks to be reported to the state.
With the new school year underway, Florida health officials reported 21,869 new cases in children under 19. A total of 144,430 new cases have been reported in children 19 or younger in the last four weeks after many districts returned for the start of a new year.
For another week, teenagers represent the highest positivity rate of any age group in the state (14.9%), and children younger than 12 represent the age group with the most new cases — 12,202.
Not only are children getting infected, but some are also getting severely sick from the virus. For two children under 16 years old this week, the virus proved fatal, the state report shows.
Florida and Texas lead the country in new cases as a percentage of the national total. However, Florida contributed only 8% of the country’s total cases compared to about 20% in mid-July. Texas contributes the highest amount of new cases in the last week: 12.5%.
Throughout the pandemic, a total of 3,485,163 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 4,568 additional cases, down from 5,548 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 214,792.
- Broward County on Friday reported 5,503 additional cases, down from 7,108 additional cases, down a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 342,204.
- Miami-Dade County on Friday reported 7,423 additional cases, down from 9,733 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 649,565
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 11.2% on Friday, down from 13.5% a week prior and 15.2% 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 7.8%, down from 9.4% a week earlier; in Palm Beach, it was 10%, down from 11.6% a week earlier; and in Miami-Dade, it was 5.8%, down from 6.5% a week earlier.
Florida is beginning to see significant improvement in COVID hospitalizations.
As of Friday, 9,585 COVID patients were admitted — about 5,000 less than two weeks ago.
Health care workers are seeing some relief in their overcrowded COVID wards. On Friday, COVID patients occupied 16.5% of the beds, compared with 21% a week ago.
There also is improvement in COVID patients needing intensive care. As of Friday, 89% of ICU beds are full compared with 95% in the last week of August. Of those beds that are full, 37% are occupied by COVID patients, a drop from a month ago when
Hospitals report COVID patients are younger than in prior waves and mostly unvaccinated.
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Broward Health said its hospitals have about 200 COVID patients admitted as of Friday, a big drop from the 420 the health system had at its peak on Aug. 24. Its Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital had 18 at its peak and now has seven. “With the return to school we thought pediatric admissions would increase but have not seen that, so that’s good news,” said Broward Health spokeswoman Jennifer Smith.
The number of COVID doses given out in the last week has declined to 335,327 compared with 530,627 for the week of Aug. 20.
Floridians received another 41,450 booster shots in the last seven days, bringing the total booster doses to 277,551.
In Florida, more than 13.4 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Of those, 11.2 million are fully vaccinated; 1.9 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 to 64 age group, which is 83% vaccinated. The 20 to 29 age group is the least vaccinated, at 51%. Florida’s teens 12 to 19 are 53% vaccinated.