Florida Sets Record for Virus-Related Deaths With 173 Reported in One Day

The 173 new confirmed deaths - largest one-day increase recorded by the state - brought the state's resident death toll to more than 5,500

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What to Know

  • Florida reported more than 10,200 new cases Thursday, bringing the state's total to nearly 390,000
  • The state reported 173 new virus-related resident deaths, a new daily record, bringing the death toll for residents to more than 5,500
  • Miami-Dade and Broward combined accounted for almost 40% of Thursday's new cases

The number of COVID-related deaths in Florida reached a new peak Thursday, with 173 residents confirmed over the last day, the largest increase on record.

The state also identified 10,249 new cases, bringing total count to 389,868. The one-day increase in cases is in line with the average daily increase over the last week.

Florida's death toll for residents now stands at 5,518, while another 114 non-Florida residents have died in the state from COVID-related causes. Deaths are reported when they are confirmed, so they are delayed by days or weeks after they actually occur.

For example, of the 173 new resident deaths announced Thursday, only 20 occurred yesterday, according to the state’s website. About a third occurred one week ago or longer.

The percent of all tests coming back positive reached 16.1% Thursday, suggesting the previous day's plunge to 13.5% may have been the result of a large number of negative tests being reported on that day, and not part of a promising trend.

Over the last week that positivity rate for all tests has held steady at around 15%, down slightly from the approximately 17% seven-day rates posted the previous week.

When people who previously tested positive and are re-tested are removed from the numbers, the so-called “new case” positivity rate was 12.3% yesterday, in line with that metric’s seven-day rate.

Statewide, more than 3,215,180 people have been tested for COVID-19, and more than 22,640 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 2,723 new coronavirus cases reported Thursday, pushing the county's total to 95,068.

In Broward County, 1,263 new COVID-19 cases brought the county's total to 45,010. Miami-Dade and Broward combined accounted for nearly 40% of Thursday's new cases.

Palm Beach County had 28,267 cases, and Monroe County had 998.

Miami-Dade officials announced on Tuesday that the county would be changing the way it calculates and reports the rate of positive test results.

For months, the county was reporting a higher rate than the state, which elected leaders said complicated their decision on whether to order additional restrictions and business closures.

“We have been trying to get to the bottom of that discrepancy for a while now,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said.

County officials met with state health officials on Monday to go over the information the state uses to determine the county’s positive rate for new cases. The state’s reporting did not include retests of anyone who had previously tested positive for the virus.

The county, however, was reporting all results, including retests.

Jobless Claims Up for First Time Since March

The viral pandemic's resurgence caused the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits to rise last week for the first time in nearly four months, evidence of the deepening economic pain the outbreak is causing.

The increase in weekly jobless claims to 1.4 million served to underscore the outsize role the unemployment insurance system is playing among the nation’s safety net programs — just when a $600 weekly federal aid payment for the jobless is set to expire at the end of this week.

All told, the Labor Department said Thursday that the total number of people receiving jobless benefits fell 1.1 million to 16.2 million. That was a hopeful sign that even as layoffs remain persistently high, some companies are still recalling workers.

Last week’s pace of unemployment applications — the 18th straight time it’s topped 1 million — was up from 1.3 million the previous week. Before the pandemic, applications had never exceeded 700,000. An additional 975,000 applied last week for jobless aid under a separate program that has made self-employed and gig workers eligible for the first time. That figure isn’t adjusted for seasonal trends.

COVID-19 By The Numbers

Click here for a visual look at the virus' impact across the state.

The stubbornly high number of layoffs reflects a pandemic that is causing both confirmed infections and deaths to creep up nationally. Laboratories are buckling under a surge of coronavirus tests, creating processing delays that experts say are undercutting the pandemic response. With the U.S. tally of confirmed infections nearing 4 million and deaths topping 140,000, some workers are being kept off the job while awaiting test results.

Analysts say the economy can’t improve until health authorities can control the spread of the virus, a need that is complicating the reopening of businesses and schools.

Miami Increasing Mask Fines

Miami officials said that beginning Thursday, they'd be enforcing steeper fines for those not caught wearing masks in public. Warnings are now a thing of the past, and those caught without wearing a mask will be fined $100 for the first offense, up from the initial $50 fine when masks became mandatory several weeks ago.

Other cities, including Miami Beach, are among those that will also issue fines.

“When I found out on Friday we hadn’t issues one citation in weeks, it really upset me because it’s betraying those who are doing the right thing and setting a bad example for those who have not,” said Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell.

Russell said the city had been focusing on public education and not issuing fines. Now, Miami Police will have a dedicated force of nearly 40 officers focused on mask enforcement. 

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the possibility of a second shut down of businesses is possible, but nothing will be decided until a second meeting takes place Friday with leaders from the community. 

Suarez made the comments at a news conference Thursday, where he also announced the city was accepting $1.3 million for help in rental assistance during the pandemic.

DeSantis Addresses COVID Concerns

While hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise across the state, on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis sought to calm fears that some health systems will be unable to handle the load of patients.

DeSantis told reporters at a state capitol news conference that hospital admissions and the percentage of tests coming back positive seem to be plateauing or declining in much of the state and that hospitals have sufficient capacity in their intensive care units and overall.

“The trend is much better today than it was two weeks ago,” DeSantis said. “I am confident that we will get through this. I am confident that the folks ... in our hospital systems will continue to do a great job and meet the demand. There is a lot of anxiety and fear out there and I think we are going to be able to get through it. We are not there yet.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis is expressing confidence that Florida will soon contain its coronavirus outbreak and that hospitals can handle the current influx of patients.

Dr. Stanley Marks, chief medical officer for Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County, said Florida's rising daily death rate shows “we're not beating this disease yet.” He said Floridians need to do a better job of isolating themselves when they can, wearing masks when they can't and washing their hands frequently.

“I’m concerned about my fellow Floridians that sometimes I see out doing things that just don’t make any sense in the middle of a pandemic,” he said. “We have got to get our fellow citizens to understand it’s up to them to help control this disease. Right now there is no magical medical bullet.”

DeSantis said he feared some patients suffering possible heart attacks, strokes and other medical emergencies would not go to the hospital because they were afraid of contracting the virus.

“COVID is very important but COVID is just one aspect of the overall health care system and the health needs of Floridians," he said.

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