ORLANDO, Fla. – For the fourth time this week, Florida reported fewer than 5,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day.
The Florida Department of Health on Wednesday reported 4,115 new COVID-19 cases. The new infections bring the state’s running total since March to 584,047 cases.
Florida saw its lowest number of coronavirus cases Monday, with 2,678. The last time Florida reported a lower count of new positive cases was June 17.
Though a decline in cases could signal a promising trend, public health officials look to the positivity rate to determine if a society has curbed the spread of infection.
The positivity rate, which represents the number of people who tested positive for the first time compared to the overall number of tests reported by the DOH for the day prior was 7.08%, the lowest it reached within the last five days.
Health officials agree the rate should be under 10% to show infections are on the decline and must remain under that benchmark for at least two weeks.
On Wednesday, the state officially surpassed 10,000 deaths as the DOH announced 174 people have recently died in relation to the virus. This brings the overall death toll to 10,067, which includes 9,932 residents and 135 non-residents who died in Florida. New COVID-19 deaths are often delayed in reporting to the state DOH and those new deaths could have occurred within the past few weeks.
Many people who test positive for COVID-19 will have mild or no symptoms at all, which is why it is important to monitor hospitalizations and deaths attributed to the virus.
As of Wednesday morning, there were 5,350 patients currently hospitalized with coronavirus in Florida, according to the state Agency for Healthcare Administration. That’s down 134 patients from Tuesday’s report around the same time.
The Florida Department of Health reported 505 new hospitalizations on Wednesday, meaning 35,200 people have been hospitalized on account of COVID-19 since the virus was first detected in Florida on March 1.
Here are three things to know about coronavirus for Wednesday:
- Nursing home visitations: After the state task force on reopening nursing homes and long-term care facilities suggested outdoor visits with families, Florida’s surgeon general warned of the complicated nature of the option. The task force cited extra staffing, more personal protective equipment and making sure a facility had no cases of COVID-19 for at least 28 days to mitigate infection. You can read more about their meeting here. The task force meets again Wednesday afternoon before sending any recommendations to the governor.
- Lawsuit to keep schools closed: Florida’s largest teachers’ union is fighting to keep schools closed by suing Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials trying to stop in-person learning until the state can ensure it can be done safely. Two days of hearings are scheduled to start Wednesday. Follow the latest updates and watch the hearings live using this link.
- Pool testing students: The Osceola County School Board overwhelmingly voted to approve a plan that will allow pool COVID-19 testing for students and staff members. This means a random sample of 10% of the student and staff population will be tested on a weekly schedule. See how they plan to test students by zip code here.
Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases across Central Florida as of Aug. 18:
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News 6 has been keeping track of COVID-19 cases since it was first detected in Florida in March. Use the interactive infographic below to see cases by date.