Florida reports an encouraging drop: 56,325 new COVID cases for the week

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Sep 24, 2021 6:21 PM

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New COVID infections declined dramatically this week, an indication that Florida has solidly emerged from the delta surge.

On Friday, Florida health officials reported 56,325 new COVID cases for the week ending Sept. 23, almost half the new infections reported just two weeks ago.

Another sign of improvement: The positivity rate declined to 8.6% from 11% a week earlier. The last time the positivity rate dropped below 10% was July 8.

Deaths, however, continue to remain high. Florida reported another 2,340 deaths, only slightly fewer than the 2,468 additional deaths from COVID-19 reported for the week prior. 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, 53,580 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 383 deaths have occurred in people younger than 29. Of those younger deaths, 24 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 15,711 new cases in children 19 or younger, slightly fewer than the 21,869 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 (11.2%), and children younger than 12 represent the age group with the most new cases — 8,872.

Not only are children getting infected, but some are also getting severely sick from the virus. For three 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 7.1% 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: 10.7%.

Throughout the pandemic, a total of 3,539,272 people in the state have had COVID.

  • Palm Beach County on Friday reported 2,921 additional cases, down from 4,568 additional cases a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 217,721.
  • Broward County on Friday reported 4,349 additional cases, down from 5,503 additional cases a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 346,392.
  • Miami-Dade County on Friday reported 8,556 additional cases, up from 7,423 additional cases a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 656,813.

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 8.6% on Friday, down from 11.2% a week ago and 13.5% 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 6.6%, down from 7.8%; in Palm Beach County, it was 7.5%, down from 10% a week earlier; and in Miami-Dade, it was 5.3%, down from 5.8% a week earlier.

Florida has seen a major improvement in COVID hospitalizations.

As of Friday, 7,478 COVID patients were admitted, about half as many as just a month ago.

Health care workers are seeing some relief in their overcrowded COVID wards. On Friday, COVID patients occupied 12.8% of the beds compared to 16.5% a week ago.

There also is improvement in COVID patients needing intensive care. As of Friday, 86% of ICU beds are full compared with 95% in the last week of August. Of those beds that are full, only 30% are occupied by COVID patients.

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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 to 273,756 compared with 335,327 for the week of Sept. 16.

Floridians received another 36,253 booster shots in the last seven days, bringing the total booster doses to 319,536.

In Florida, more than 13.5 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Of those, 11.3 million are fully vaccinated; 1.86 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 52%. Florida’s teens 12 to 19 are 54% vaccinated.

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