ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida’s largest school district, Orange County Public Schools, is set to reopen schools to less than half of its student population in less than 24 hours as the Florida Department of Health reported 4,555 new COVID-19 cases across the state.
For the past five days, Florida has reported fewer than 5,000 new coronavirus cases every day.
The new infections bring the state’s running total since March to 588,602 cases. In that same time period, more than 4.3 million people have been tested for the virus.
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 6.78%. The positivity rate has been declining over the past four days and remained below 10% for eight 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. The DOH reported an additional 119 people have recently died from the virus on Thursday. This brings the overall death toll to 10,186, which includes 10,049 residents and 137 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 Thursday morning, there were 5,428 patients currently hospitalized with coronavirus in Florida, an increase of 78 current patients from the same time on Wednesday, according to the state Agency for Healthcare Administration.
The Florida Department of Health reported 450 new hospitalizations on Thursday, meaning 35,650 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 Aug. 20:
- How COVID-safe are you? The Florida Department of Elder Affairs released a new survey that asks Floridians to review their decisions with respect to COVID-19 situations, to see how different actions affect their individual health, as well as the health of others. The online tool called the “Florida Safe Survey CV19 CheckUp,” scores the safety of Floridians’ behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic based on how they answer a few questions.
- Lawsuit to keep schools closed: Attorneys representing Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corocoran will get to make their case to open schools Thursday in the ongoing legal battle with Florida’s largest teachers’ union trying to stop in-person learning until the state can ensure it can be done safely. The second day of hearing begin Thursday morning. This comes as Orange County Public Schools are set to welcome students for in-person learning on Friday. Follow the latest updates and watch the hearings live here.
- 1.1 million seeking unemployment: The number of laid-off workers seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose to 1.1 million last week after two weeks of declines, evidence that many employers are still slashing jobs as the coronavirus bedevils the U.S. economy. The latest figures, released Thursday by the Labor Department, suggest that more than five months after the viral outbreak erupted the economy is still weak, despite recent gains as some businesses reopen and some sectors like housing and manufacturing have rebounded. Click here to read the full jobs report.
Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases across Central Florida as of Aug. 20:
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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.