COVID-19 cases continue to decline as 6 Central Florida school districts begin in-person learning

Florida Department of Health reports 72 new deaths

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida continues to report a decline in new coronavirus cases, a hopeful trend as tens of thousands of students return to class for in-person instruction across Central Florida.

For the ninth day in a row, the Florida Department of Health reported fewer than 5,000 new cases. Monday’s report revealed public health officials had tabulated 2,258 new infections across the state. Since the virus was first detected on March 1 in Florida, FDOH has recorded 602,829 total cases.

“We in Florida have had things open. Universal Studios opened in June, SeaWorld in June, Disney opened about three days after the peak in infections.” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday during a news conference in Miami. “So they opened right as the peak had already happened and we continue to see downward even with Disney open and people coming.”

Another promising statistic is the dwindling number in coronavirus-related deaths. FDOH reported 72 new fatalities Monday, with six of those deaths reported in Central Florida counties marking a decline in people dying in relation to COVID-19. It is important to note that new COVID-19 deaths are often delayed in reporting to the state and newly reported deaths could have occurred within the past few weeks.

Overall, Monday’s numbers show up to 10,397 Floridians have died due to the virus and 137 non-residents, meaning 10,534 deaths can be attributed to COVID-19 across the state.

Though coronavirus-related deaths seem to be lessening, new data from the FDOH show the state is recording an average of about 156 coronavirus fatalities per day this month. Cancer and heart disease each average about 125 deaths per day, according to the FDOH. This means for the month of August, COVID-19 is the state’s No.1 killer when it comes to disease.

Public health officials are looking to the positivity rate to see if Florida is truly curbing the spread of COVID-19. The positivity rate represents the number of people who tested positive for the first time compared to the overall number of tests reported by the FDOH for the day prior. Monday’s report shows the state’s new case positivity rate is 5.2%. However, the state is using data from 41,827 tests administered on Sunday, the lowest number of coronavirus tests administered over the last seven days.

Either way, Monday’s report marked the eleventh day the rate was below 10% in Florida. Health officials agree that the positivity rate should be under 10% for two weeks to show infections are on the decline.

“I’m also happy to be able to just look at the different trends in the state of Florida,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “Obviously, this is something that we’re going to continue to have to deal with but in the state of Florida right now statewide, the number of people who are hospitalized with COVID positive diagnosis is down over 50% over the last month.”

Public health officials are closely monitoring these trends as schools reopen for face-to-face learning. According to the FDOH’s pediatric report released on Saturday, 48,217 people under the age of 18 have contracted coronavirus. Eight kids have died from coronavirus in Florida.

Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases in people under the age of 18 across Central Florida as of Aug. 23:

CountyCases in kidsPercent positivity

[RELATED: Where to get your children tested for coronavirus]

As of Monday morning, there were 4,636 patients currently hospitalized with coronavirus in Florida, according to the state Agency for Healthcare Administration.

Florida reported 128 new hospitalizations on Monday, bringing the overall total to 36,596 since March.

Here are three things to know about coronavirus in Central Florida and across the U.S. for Monday:

  • Judge slated to rule on Florida teachers union lawsuit: Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, is slated to issue a ruling as early as Monday in lawsuits filed by the Florida Education Association and the union that represents Orange County teachers. The unions are suing Gov. Ron DeSantis and state education officials saying the decision to reopen schools should be left up to school boards. After two days of hearings last week, the defendants in the case maintain that the Constitution also requires the state to provide “high-quality education” to Florida schoolchildren. Read more about the legal battle over reopening schools here.
  • FDA announces emergency use authorization for COVID-19 plasma treatment: President Donald Trump and the FDA announced Sunday the agency has given authorization to use antibody-rich plasma to treat COVID-19 patients. The FDA’s decision memorandum says though there’s not enough research to determine the dangers of convalescent plasma treatment, the benefits of its use outweigh the risk.
  • UCF and 6 Central Florida districts start school: The University of Central Florida says fall enrollment is up, though a quarter of its classes will be in person this semester. The university is expecting to have 3,000 students return to campus during the coronavirus pandemic. UCF has outlined new health and safety guidelines, including a mask requirement. Meantime, students in Osceola, Flagler, Lake, Sumter, Marion and Brevard counties are starting the new school year. Read more about each district’s reopening plans and how they’re adjusting classes during the pandemic here.

Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases across Central Florida as of Aug. 24:

CountyCase TotalNew CasesHospitalizationsNew HospitalizationsDeaths TotalNew Deaths

Editor’s note: The numbers and data referenced in this story are publicly available on the Florida Department of Health website here and on the AHCA dashboard here.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter and go to