ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – More than a month ago, Florida began seeing a rise in novel coronavirus cases by the thousands per day after Gov. Ron DeSantis reopened the state for businesses and there are no signs the infections will slow anytime soon, according to the latest data available from the Florida Department of Health.
While most people who test positive for COVID-19 will have minor or no symptoms at all, those aren’t the cases concerning health officials. It’s the risk those individuals pose of infecting people with pre-existing health conditions and the older population.
Florida continues to set unfortunate records this week related to coronavirus cases. On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health reported another record number of new deaths, 156, as well as a record number of new patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
The Florida Department of Health reported 13,965 new positive coronavirus cases Thursday, as well as 491 new hospitalizations, with a positivity rate of 12.94% for new reported cases compared to those tested. Nearly 3,400 of those new cases are from the Central Florida region alone.
In Florida, a total of 19,825 patients have been hospitalized due to severe cases of the respiratory illness. The state is now releasing numbers on currently hospitalized patients, the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration dashboard shows 8,763 people are currently receiving treatment at medical facilities across the state due to complications from COVID-19 as of 10:45 a.m. Thursday.
The new statistics bring Florida’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 315,775 since the disease was first detected in the state on March 1.
As of Thursday, 4,782 people have died in Florida from the virus.
On July 1, the FDOH began reporting resident and non-resident deaths as separate categories. The state reported 156 new resident deaths and zero new non-resident deaths in Florida on Thursday, making for a cumulative total of 4,677 COVID-19 related resident deaths and 105 non-resident deaths.
Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at a round table discussion Thursday to discuss the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on those with mental health problems.
During the discussion in Tampa, doctors explained how the pandemic has affected those with mental health issues.
For those staying in a hospital, the separation from those close to you can be very straining.
“In many hospitals I mean I’ve encouraged to try to have visitation because I think it’s important, but you’re looking at a situation where you don’t want to see this virus, be introduced in a way into a hospital situation,” DeSantis explained.
DeSantis also touched on students who have had to alter the way they learn as classes moved online and the living room became the classroom.
“We’re not going to school, we’re not seeing their friends as much and, and they’ve had to really see some major changes in their lives. So these are all really significant issues. These are all issues that we got to face in a very direct way,” DeSantis added.
Here are three things to know today about the coronavirus in Florida:
Mask up or don’t shop here: Without face mask mandates in several states, including Florida, many companies are issuing their own of sorts requiring customers and staff to wear them. Wearing a face mask reduces the chance of one person spreading the virus to another. Publix, CVS, Kohl’s and Walmart became the most recent stores to tell customers to wear face coverings.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health officials initially said wearing a face may not help, it’s been several months since the agency reversed course and now all medical leaders agree wearing a mask when you cannot social distance is the best defense against COVID-19. The virus is still relatively new and different prevention and treatment options are actively being reevaluated for the fluid situation.
Mental health: DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis will host a roundtable in Tampa Thursday to discuss mental health amid COVID-19. The pandemic has highlighted challenges for the nation’s mental health care system. Even before COVID-19, access to mental health services in the U.S. could be difficult, including for people who have insurance. Now experts fear the virus will make the situation worse, putting the patients most in need at risk of falling through the cracks and inflicting on countless others newfound grief, anxiety and depression.
Already, social-distancing orders are affecting access to treatment across income levels as therapists and patients scramble to adjust. Medicare and Medicaid have relaxed rules to allow counseling by phone, FaceTime or other remote means. But many of the elderly and poor who rely on those plans aren’t comfortable with the alternatives. Some do not have phones or access to the internet.
COVID-19 and transparency: Currently, the Florida DOH report is the best source of information about the current state of the virus, however, the information may not provide the full picture. The Florida Department of Health says hundreds of laboratories are not reporting negative COVID-19 tests to the state but major health care providers include Orlando Health, Health First and AdventHealth told News 6 they are. Here’s what a review of the laboratory numbers found.
This also comes as hospital data related to the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. will now be collected by a private technology firm, rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a move the Trump administration says will speed up reporting but one that concerns some public health leaders.
The CDC has agreed to step out of the government’s traditional data collection process “in order to streamline reporting,” Dr. Robert Redfield said during a call with reporters set up by the agency’s parent, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Coronavirus cases in Central Florida’s see jump
School districts across the state are still working out what the 2020-2021 school year will look like for Florida students. Depending on where schools are located and the COVID-19 cases, some districts have delayed start dates, including Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.
The Volusia County School Board is set to vote on its reopening plan next week after meeting on Wednesday. The Brevard County Federation of Teachers is meeting Thursday with the school board to negotiate teaching amid the pandemic.
“We have some protections we need to put in place for our teachers,” a member of the BFT said at the start of the meeting.
With school weeks away, Orange County reported a jump of nearly 1,400 new cases Thursday. There are currently 625 patients hospitalized with coronavirus in Orange County.
Osceola also reported a large increase by nearly 520 new cases, where 180 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
New COVID-19 deaths were reported Thursday in Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Polk, Seminole and Sumter counties, all but two of the counties in the Central Florida region.
Here’s a breakdown of coronavirus cases in Central Florida by county:
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.