What to Know
- Florida reported more than 12,100 new cases Saturday, bringing the state's total to nearly 415,000
- The state reported 124 new virus-related resident deaths, bringing the death toll for residents to more than 5,770
- Miami-Dade and Broward combined accounted for more than 41% of Saturday's new cases
Florida’s latest surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths is showing some signs of reaching a plateau: another 12,199 new infections were detected Saturday, bringing the total case count to 414,511, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Health.
Florida has added about 11,000 cases a day on average for several days, down from about 12,000 cases a day the previous week.
Newly confirmed deaths also appear to be leveling off, with 124 new Florida resident deaths announced Saturday bringing the death toll to 5,777.
That’s the eighth-largest increase on record, and the lowest increase in five days. Still, the average new deaths confirmed per day over the last week remains at a record high 126 per day.
Additionally, another 117 non-Florida residents have died of COVID complications in the state since the outbreak began.
New hospitalizations also declined Saturday slightly to 505, the third highest one-day increase on record. As with deaths, the average daily increase in hospitalizations over the last week also remains at a record high.
The leveling off in those metrics could be the beginning of a plateau, a pause In the most recent surge, or a peak.
But Gov. Ron DeSantis last week repeatedly called what he is seeing a plateau, noting a key leading indicator of infections — emergency room visits with COVID-like symptoms — had started to decline.
The share of tests results received by the state Friday that were positive was 15.3% for all tests and 11.4% after retests for people who previously tested positive are excluded. Both rates are showing a three-day decline.
COVID-19 By The Numbers
Click here for a visual look at the virus' impact across the state.
Statewide, more than 3,340,900 people have been tested for COVID-19, and 23,730 hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been reported in Florida to-date.
In Miami-Dade County, the state's most populous and the current epicenter of the outbreak, there were 3,424 new coronavirus cases reported Saturday, pushing the county's total to 101,854 along with 1,379 virus-related deaths.
In Broward County, 1,611 new COVID-19 cases brought the county's total to 48,187, along with 580 deaths. Miami-Dade and Broward combined accounted for more than 41% of Saturday's new cases.
Palm Beach County had 29,707 cases and 752 deaths, and Monroe County had 1,114 cases and 6 deaths.
Data Questions Rise With COVID Death Toll
Last month, Rebekah Jones claimed that she had been fired by the Florida Department of Health for refusing to help the state manipulate numbers and make Florida's coronavirus outbreak seem less severe than it is.
Although the incident prompted questions about the veracity of the department's coronavirus figures, Gov. Ron DeSantis has continued to downplay concerns as the state starts to see alarming daily increases in virus-related deaths.
Last week, he claimed that the state's death toll (as reported by the department) is inflated, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires the state to include people who die of accidents or suicide as long as they had tested positive for the virus.
"A lot of people are, like, 'How is that possible? You get hit by a car and then you're attributing it to coronavirus?' And so I want (the Department of Health) to go back and look," DeSantis said at a press conference Monday in Orlando.
"I think, though, the reason that's the case is because what CDC has said is anybody that tests positive, if they then die, that's a death amongst cases. But I think the public should be, know, say okay, if someone commits suicide, for example, and then they turn up positive, should that be attributed to the coronavirus?"
When NBC 6 requested evidence of this CDC guideline, the state provided no response. A search of CDC policies online also did not turn up any evidence to support the governor's statement.
Hospital Employees Return to Work Before Getting COVID-19 Test Results
Some staff at Jackson Health System are allowed to return to work before they know if they have tested positive or negative for the coronavirus, causing anxiety among those who fear they may become infected.
“They’re scared because we don’t know if you are positive or not and you may be exposing us all,” said Rene Sanchez, the union president of AFSCME Local 1363, which represents 5,000 employees at Jackson. “I’m only assuming Jackson is making that decision because we need people, we need bodies.”
Even though the virus can spread from people without symptoms, Jackson Health System confirmed to NBC 6 that staff are allowed to return to work before they get the results back from their coronavirus test.
Jackson pointed to the use of masks, disinfection requirements and other precautions as its method of choice to prevent the spread of the virus.
“All employees at Jackson Health System are required to wear a hospital-grade mask at all times, as well as practice frequent hand-hygiene and social distance when possible," said Lidia Amoretti, the media relations manager for Jackson Health System.
"Given all these safety requirements, employees who are asymptomatic are allowed to continue working while they wait for their results."
DeSantis Joins Trump For Executive Signing of Lowering Prescription Drug Costs
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday joined President Donald Trump at the White House, where Trump signed three executive orders aimed at lowering the prices of prescription drugs.
One of the orders will reduce the price of insulin and the price of EpiPens. Another order will allow states, wholesalers and pharmacies to import cheaper drugs from Canada.
Florida passed a bill in 2019 to import drugs from Canada and other countries, which needed federal approval.
The signing comes one day after Trump canceled events scheduled in Florida next month for the Republican National Convention amid the pandemic.
Trump had already moved the convention’s public events out of North Carolina because of virus concerns. But the spiking virus shifted south, too, and the planned gathering in Jacksonville increasingly appeared to be both a health and political risk.
Trump and his advisers feared that going forward with big parties and “infomercial” programming in Florida would ultimately backfire on the president.