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New COVID cases in Florida declined further this week, however, the virus continues to take the lives of Floridians.
The number of new cases in Florida for the week ending Nov. 4 dropped to 11,069 from 12,880 a week ago, according to a report released Friday by the Florida Department of Health. The case counts mark a big improvement from August when the count reached as high as 151,675 new cases in a week.
Yet, Florida reported 664 additional deaths from the virus, bringing the overall death toll to 60,334 people. Surpassing 60,000 deaths sets a grim new milestone for Florida. The state is changing the way it reports deaths daily to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so no daily counts were provided for most of this week.
The weekly count reported Friday reflects all deaths over the last week or even weeks prior that are newly confirmed with COVID as the cause of death.
In a sign of improvement, the COVID-19 test positivity rate continues to go in the right direction — downward.
The rate fell to 2.6% from 3% last week, the lowest it’s been in Florida since the earliest days of the pandemic. This is the fifth week in a row with a positivity rate below 5%, the benchmark number used by epidemiologists to gauge what public health measures should be in place. At its worst, Florida’s test positivity climbed as high as 20.5% for the week ending Aug. 19.
The state’s weekly report mirrors the daily trend that shows Florida has left the delta wave behind — at least for now.
As the state recovers from the delta wave, it is no longer considered an area with “high” community transmission, according to national standards.
The total number of deaths rose by 664, a new weekly low for the month.
Last week the total number of deaths rose by 867.
The number of people newly vaccinated grew by 48,922, a decrease from the 56,340 people who received their first dose a week ago.
Throughout the pandemic, a total of 3,657,775 people in the state have had COVID.
- Palm Beach County on Friday reported 793 additional cases, down from 879 additional cases a week prior. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 225,725.
- Broward County on Friday reported 1,099 additional cases, down from 1,271 additional cases a week ago. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 357,796.
- Miami-Dade County on Friday reported 2,099 additional cases, down from 2,215 additional cases a week earlier. The total number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 673,883.
Public health experts say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. Until the past two weeks, Florida had exceeded 5% in its widely publicized calculation for assessing the rate for testing of residents for the last three months.
Health officials reported a statewide positivity rate of 2.6% on Friday, down from 3% a week 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 is below 5% in all three counties.
In Broward, it was 2.3%, down from 2.6% a week earlier; in Palm Beach County, it was 2.9%, down from 3% a week earlier; and in Miami-Dade, it was 1.8%, down from 2.0% a week earlier.
Florida has seen a major improvement in COVID hospitalizations. As of Friday, 1,732 COVID patients were admitted compared to 2,139 COVID patients a week ago. During the height of the delta wave, more than 17,000 COVID patients were hospitalized.
Health care workers are seeing some relief in their overcrowded COVID wards. On Friday, COVID patients occupied 2.98% of beds, compared to 3.68% of beds a week ago.
There also is improvement in COVID patients needing intensive care. As of Friday, 75% of ICU beds were full, compared with 95% in the last week of August. Of those beds that are full, 6.7% were occupied by COVID patients, down from 8.5% last week.
Hospitals report patients are younger than in prior waves and mostly unvaccinated.
The delta wave triggered an increase in vaccination that slowed in early October but has picked up again. The number of total COVID doses given out in the last week was 307,629.
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Now children 5 to 11 have become eligible for the Pfizer vaccine and Florida parents already have begun making appointments.
Meanwhile, Floridians received another 207,361 booster shots this week. That brings the total booster doses to 1,359,985.
More than 13.9 million people in Florida have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Of those, 10.89 million are fully vaccinated; 1.7 million have received one shot.
The most heavily vaccinated age group in Florida is 65 and older, which is 90% vaccinated, followed by the 60 to 64 age group, which is 85% vaccinated. The 20 to 29 age group is the least vaccinated, at 55%. Florida’s teens 12 to 19 are 56% vaccinated.
Sun Sentinel health reporter Cindy Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.