With busiest Florida testing sites closed, new coronavirus cases drop significantly

Orange, Miami state-run COVID-19 testing sites closed July 30 due to Tropical Storm Isaias

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida on Monday reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since June 23, with less than 4,800 new positive results, however, the figure is no reason for celebration because it is tied to the lack of testing due to all state-run testing sites closing because of Tropical Storm Isaias.

Most Florida-run testing sites have been closed since last week when forecasts put most of the state in then Hurricane Isaias’ path. The sites that closed included the busiest in Orange and Miami-Dade counties.

For context, all last week the state reported more than 87,000 people tested per day. On Saturday, the state reported just under 61,000.

While some test results can take up to two weeks rapid test results can come back in under an hour and priority one tests come back within 1-2 days. Those tests all go into the state total. With the state’s largest testing sites now closed for five days, Florida reported a drop in testing by 26,000 tests per day.

The Florida Department of Health reported 4,752 cases on Monday, bringing the state overall total to 491,884 since March. The last time Florida reported under 5,000 new cases was June 23.

Because testing numbers dropped significantly beginning July 30 when many testing sites closed deaths and hospitalizations are important factors to monitor.

The state reported 73 new COVID-19 fatalities on Monday, bringing the death toll to 7,279. That number includes 122 non-residents who died of the virus while in Florida. Across the state, 216 new patients are now hospitalized with the virus. Since March, 27,366 people have been hospitalized with the virus, according to the DOH.

Over the weekend the state’s positivity rate dropped below 10% for the first time since June 24. On Monday, the positivity rate for the number of people who tested positive for the first time compared to the overall tests was 9.09%. Health officials agree that it should be under 10% or better yet 5% to show the number of infections are leveling off.

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Here are three things to know for Aug. 3 about the pandemic in Florida:

  • State-run testing closed until Aug. 4: While Florida was spared from Tropical Storm Isaias over the weekend after it turn away from the peninsula the potential weather threat caused the state to close all COVID-19 testing sites run by Florida. The large-scale testing locations will reopen on Tuesday. Until then, residents can still get tested at private hospitals and at businesses offering drive-up testing including Walmart and CVS. Those options require appointments in advance. The lack of wide-scale testing will directly impact the state’s COVID-19 numbers, including the number of cases, in the days to come as test results are still taking days if not weeks for some.
  • A victory amid a global pandemic: Although not directly tied to anything COVID-19 related two NASA astronauts splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday near Pensacola becoming the first to launch and land in the SpaceX Dragon capsule. The launch marked the return to human spaceflight from Florida’s coast for the first time since the end of the shuttle program in 2011. It was a historic moment of pride for America during a very tough year. Astronauts Doug Hurley acknowledged the timing shortly after the hatch to the spacecraft opened. He told the teams at SpaceX and NASA to be proud of the accomplishment. “Take a moment to just cherish this day, especially given all the things that have happened this year,” he said.
  • Near miss spares hurricane shelter concerns: One of the new concerns this hurricane season is what happens when people must evacuate their homes to shelters, facing a situation with dozens people while trying to avoid COVID-19. Volusia and Brevard counties opened shelters ahead of Tropical Storm Isaias Sunday but by later in the day closed them after lack of demand and a better forecast for Florida. Emergency management officials in Central Florida say shelters will adhere by social distancing meaning there will need to be more locations. Hurricane season runs until November and it remains to be seen if those safety measures will be put to the test.

Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Central Florida by county. New virus deaths were reported Monday in Flagler, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia counties.

CountyCasesNew casesHospitalizations overallNew hospitalizationsDeaths