Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Sun Sentinel.
New COVID infections took a big dip this week, an indication that Florida has emerged from the delta surge — at least for now.
Florida health officials reported 37,772 cases Friday compared with 56,325 for the week ending Sept. 23.
Another sign of improvement: The positivity rate declined to 6.5% from 8.6% a week earlier. Health officials consider COVID under control when the positivity rate drops below 5%.
Deaths, however, continue to remain high. Florida reported another 1,719 deaths, fewer than the 2,340 additional deaths from COVID-19 reported for the week before. Because of a lag, Florida’s daily death counts this week reflect the aftermath of hospitalizations seen two to three weeks ago.
With the new deaths added to the total count, 55,299 people in Florida have died from the virus, about a fourth of them this summer as the state battled a fierce surge in new cases fueled by the delta variant.
The death toll from COVID includes all ages. The majority are people 65 or older, but 401 deaths have occurred in people younger than 29. Of those younger deaths,18 more 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 9,881 new cases this week in children 19 or younger, slightly fewer than the 15,711 new cases reported a week earlier.
For another week, teenagers 12 to 19 represent the highest positivity rate of any age group in the state (8.5%), and 30 to 39-year-olds represent the age group with the most new cases: 6,127.
As of Sept. 30, Florida dropped to third in the country in new cases as a percentage of the national total. Florida contributed only 5.3% of the country’s total cases compared with about 20% in mid-July. Texas contributed the highest share of new cases in the last week: 9.9%.
Throughout the pandemic, a total of 3,576,571 people in the state have had COVID.
- Palm Beach County on Friday reported 2,416 additional cases, down from 2,921 additional cases a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 220,108.
- Broward County on Friday reported 3,462 additional cases, down from 4,349 the week before. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 349,793.
- Miami-Dade County on Friday reported 5,027 additional cases, down from 8,556 a week earlier. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 661,638.
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 6.5% on Friday, down from 8.6% a week ago and 11.2% 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 5.5%, down from 6.6%; in Palm Beach County, it was 6.5% down, from 7.5% a week earlier; and in Miami-Dade, it was 3.7% down, from 5.3% a week earlier.
Florida has seen a major improvement in COVID hospitalizations.
As of Friday, 5,414 COVID patients were admitted compared with 7,478 COVID patients admitted a week ago and about a third as many as just six weeks ago.
Health care workers are seeing some relief in their overcrowded COVID wards. On Friday, COVID patients occupied 9.3% of the beds compared to 12.8% of the beds a week ago.
There also is improvement in COVID patients needing intensive care. As of Friday, 82% of ICU beds are full compared with 95% in the last week of August. Of those beds that are full, only 22% are occupied by COVID patients.
Breaking News Alerts Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
Hospitals report patients are younger than in prior waves and mostly unvaccinated.
The number of COVID doses given out in the last week has declined significantly to 278,891 compared with 400,368 for the week ending Sept. 3.
Floridians received another 108,569 booster shots in the last seven days, bringing the total booster doses to 436,543.
In Florida, more than 13.6 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Of those, 11.3 million are fully vaccinated; 1.8 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 53%. Florida’s teens 12 to 19 are 54% vaccinated.