Florida reports more than 73,000 new COVID cases, a 60% increase over previous week

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jul 23, 2021 6:36 PM

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New COVID cases in Florida skyrocketed over the past week, with 73,199 new cases and a test positivity rate at 15.1% as hospitalizations and deaths from the disease climbed too.

For the second consecutive week, Florida leads the country in new infections as the Delta variant finds pockets of unvaccinated residents and sends more of them to the hospital. Florida — one of the earliest states to abandon COVID-19 precautions — is responsible for 19.4% of all new COVID cases as of July 19, a White House COVID report shows.

As of July 19, Dade, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough and Orange counties are among the biggest hotspots in the country, according to the White House report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks state COVID cases and shows Florida’s single-day case count on Wednesday reached 12,600 — the highest since the winter peak in January.

This week’s new case count is more than 60% higher than last week, when Florida reported 45,604 new cases. New cases have been rapidly increasing throughout July.

Just four states, including Florida, accounted for about 46% of the nation’s new cases this past week.

Hospitalizations for COVID are climbing quickly in Florida, too — rising 146% from just a month ago. Hospital leaders report patients are younger than in prior waves — people in their 40s and 50s — and mostly unvaccinated.

“All of us are seeing a significant rise in COVID patients,” said Dr. Joshua Lenchus with Broward Health. “The vast majority are still here for the shortness of breath and respiratory conditions that brought them in last year.”

Positivity — the share of tests that come back positive — also soared in the past week, to 15.1% from 11.5% a week earlier. Both numbers indicate that the pandemic has raced out of control in Florida, scientists say.

Florida was one of the first states to open after pandemic lockdowns and one of the first to lift all COVID restrictions.

Twice this week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shrugged off the new rise in cases as a “seasonal event.” He said he would not allow any new COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates, or lockdowns. However, he did encourage Floridians to get vaccinated: “If you are vaccinated, the number of people that end up hospitalized is almost zero. It’s incredibly, incredibly low,” he said.

As of Friday, 60% of the eligible 12-and-older population in Florida is vaccinated with at least one dose. The 12- to 19-year-old age group is the least vaccinated at 35%.

For the week ending July 22, Florida reported 73,199 new cases, up from 45,604 new cases the prior week and 23,697 two weeks ago. The largest number of new COVID cases reported by the state were found among people 30 to 39 years old, an age group that reported 14,189 new cases.

In total, 2,479,975 people in Florida have tested positive for COVID.

  • Palm Beach County on Friday reported 3,972 additional cases, up from 2,483 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 156,925.
  • Broward County on Friday reported 6,105 additional cases, up from 3,850 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 259,317.
  • Miami-Dade County on Friday reported 11,104 new cases, up from 7,062 a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 526,897.

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.

The state reported a positivity rate of 15.1% on Friday, compared to 11.5% a week earlier 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 was 10.9% in Broward, up 8.1% a week earlier; 12.5% in Palm Beach, up from 9.6% a week earlier; and 10.1% in Miami-Dade, up from 7.4% a week earlier.

Across the state, 4,249 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 for the seven-day period ending July 19, according to the newest White House report. That’s up from 3,652 just a week ago and a 146% increase from just a month ago when 1,724 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 for the seven-day period ending June 22.

In addition, another 1,263 people were hospitalized for the seven-day period ending July 15 and suspected of having the virus.

In Palm Beach County, health officials reported 40% of adult hospitalizations are between the ages of 18-49.

As of Friday, Florida shows 38,670 people in Florida have died from COVID, with 332 deaths in the last week. That is up from 231 the week before, and the highest since cases started climbing in July.

Vaccinations continued to decline in Florida.

In late May, the state reported that it was giving out more than 400,000 vaccine doses a week. It’s now down to slightly more than 245,000.

About 60% of Florida’s population is vaccinated with one or more doses.

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As of Friday, more than 11.4 million Floridians have had one or more doses of a COVID vaccine.

In Florida, 1.5 million people have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 9.9 million have completed the series of two doses required to be fully vaccinated.

The Delta variant has more than tripled its presence in the state in the last two weeks. South Florida doctors say they are sequencing specimens taken from patients to better gauge Delta’s presence and virulence.

Florida health officials had identified 871 cases of the more contagious Delta variant in Florida as of July 15, up from 280 on June 30.

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