First coronavirus-related deaths reported in several Central Florida counties

Flagler, Lake, Polk, Sumter report first fatalities due to COVID-19

FILE - In this Thursday, March 26, 2020 file photo, vials of blood for testing and a donated bag of blood will be sent for testing and use at an American Red Cross blood drive at the Carbondale YMCA in Carbondale, Pa. On Thursday, April 2, 2020, the U.S. government eased restrictions on blood donations from gay men and other key groups because of a drop in the nation's blood supply triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. (Jake Danna Stevens/The Times-Tribune via AP) (Jake Danna Stevens)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Several Central Florida counties reported their first coronavirus-related deaths Thursday, according to officials with the Florida Department of Health.

Florida’s COVID-19 death toll grew Thursday, reaching 144. As of Thursday, more than 1,100 people statewide are hospitalized with severe cases of the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Some of those fatalities were reported in Central Florida, including in Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk and Sumter counties. Seventeen people in the region have died due to complications from COVID-19.

Thursday marked a turning point for Lake, Polk, Sumter and Flagler counties, which reported the first fatal cases of the respiratory illness. Previously, only Osceola, Orange and Volusia had reported deaths in the region related to the pandemic.

“It is with great sadness that DOH-Lake announces its first two COVID-19 deaths in Lake County,” health officials said in a news release. “We express our sincere condolences to the families and the Department of Health will continue to work with our community partners to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

In most cases, people diagnosed with coronavirus have mild symptoms, including a fever and dry cough. However, a small percentage of patients develop more severe symptoms and require hospitalization, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 9,000 people across the state have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Florida DOH. More than a million people worldwide have tested positive for the virus.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter or go to