ORLANDO, Fla. – With the month of July almost in the rear-view mirror, Florida prepares to begin a new school year and conduct a presidential primary election during the ongoing pandemic.
With a new month ahead, Florida reported 9,007 new cases on Friday, bringing the state’s overall total of COVID-19 cases to 470,386 since March 1. For the past six days, the state has reported under 10,000 new cases. The current positivity rate for those who tested positive for the first time is 10.57%. Health officials say the positivity rate should be below 10% or ideally 5% to show the case number is declining.
While reporting of coronavirus deaths are delayed by days and sometimes weeks, Florida reported hundreds of new deaths this week. On Friday that trend continued, the state reported a record 257 new resident deaths and no new non-resident deaths for a combined total of 6,966. The death toll in Florida increased by more than 1,000 for the week with Friday marking the fourth day in a row that the state broke its daily death count record.
Across the state, nearly 8,250 people are hospitalized with severe cases of the virus, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Per the DOH, hospitalizations increased by 516 since the last time the state reported the overall total 24 hours ago. The state’s overall total of hospitalizations also includes 303 children.
With Florida’s state-run COVID-19 testing sites now closed in preparation for Hurricane Isaias, the DOH coronavirus numbers will likely see a significant drop in the coming days.
“What I think will happen is that we will see an increase in our positivity rate, because we will be doing less testing. And I think that the people who would really go for testing during a storm -- if we have the storm -- are people who are feeling really sick,” said Dr. Raul Pino, with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.
Here are five things to know for today:
- Less than half of the student body will return for in-person learning: While about half of Central Florida students will continue their education through online options, schools will have significantly less students when the fall semester begins in less than two weeks for some. Parents had several options to choose from and for many the deadline to select one for their students has passed. School districts in Osceola, Lake, Seminole and Orange counties are currently reporting more than half of their student body will start the school year through virtual learning vs. in-person classroom time.
- Hurricane Isaias: State-run COVID-19 testing sites closed Thursday due to the approaching storm. This will be the first time during the pandemic that Florida is in the track of a storm. Florida residents’ storm plans will likely look different this year due to COVID-19 concerns, including at hurricane shelters. Flagler County shelters will have separate areas for those who know they have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of the virus, according to EOC officials.
- Florida primary less than three weeks away: Asked about President Trump’s tweet calling for the 2020 election to be delayed, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida will vote and will be “good to go.” The Florida primary is Aug. 18.
- Rent, foreclosure reprieve continues: DeSantis has extended the moratorium on evictions for another month. The executive order was set to expire on Aug. 1. What is set to end Saturday, unless lawmakers intervene, is a federal moratorium on evictions that has shielded millions of renters. This will not impact Florida residents protected by the state order.
- Federal benefits ending: Many left jobless by the crisis are already behind on payments and the arrival of August brings new anxieties. A supplemental $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits that helped many pay their bills is set to expire as July ends, with Congress bogged down in disagreement over a new round of aid. In Florida, those who qualify for state unemployment will still receive up to $250 in weekly payments.
Across Central Florida, Brevard, Marion, Orange, Polk, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia counties all reported new deaths on Friday.
Here’s a breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Central Florida:
|County||Cases||New cases||Hospitalizations||New Hospitalizations||Deaths|