ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida added 3,220 new coronavirus infections to its statewide count Wednesday, marking the 11th straight day the state health department reported fewer than 5,000 new coronavirus cases.
The new case count is a steady increase from the numbers the state had been seeing over the last two days. There have now been 608,722 documented cases of coronavirus since the virus was first detected in Florida on March 1.
The new cases come as tens of thousands of students in Central Florida have returned to school for in-person learning. School districts such as Seminole, Osceola and Brevard counties reported dozens of people have been asked to quarantine after the presence of coronavirus on multiple campuses, or in some cases, teachers reporting positive COVID-19 test results.
[CORONAVIRUS ON CAMPUS: Students, staff in quarantine after COVID-19 cases reported at Osceola schools | 15 positive cases reported at Brevard County schools in weeks before start of year, union says]
Public health officials are carefully observing new case numbers as students return for the school year.
Meanwhile, school leaders are keeping a close eye on attendance as districts have students learning from home, receiving instruction in the classroom or a combination of both options. So far, school districts reporting low attendance on the first day with Marion County saying more than 11,000 students didn’t show up for traditional or online classes. A district spokesperson says with the different learning options, attendance may look different but it expects to reach projected enrollment by the end of the week.
The FDOH also reported 155 new fatalities on Wednesday. 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.
The new fatalities sends the state death toll to 10,872. This number includes 10,733 Floridians and 139 nonresidents who have passed away in the state.
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.
The slight rise in cases comes as the state tested more people than it had over the past three days. Wednesday’s report shows with 58,143 coronavirus tests were administered the previous day. Out of the number of people tested, 3,327 had positive results meaning the state’s latest positivity rate is 5.75%.
The latest positivity rate proves to be a hopeful statistic as it marks the 13th day in a row 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.
Florida also continues to see an increase in hospitalizations, the FDOH reporting 366 new patients Wednesday. Since March, 37,404 people have been hospitalized in some capacity due to COVID-19.
As of Wednesday morning, there were 4,408 patients currently hospitalized with coronavirus in Florida, according to the state Agency for Healthcare Administration.
Here are three things to know about coronavirus in Central Florida in Central Florida:
- Coronavirus on campus: More than 100 students, teachers and staff in Central Florida school districts have been asked to quarantine after the presence of COVID-19 was detected on more than a dozen school campuses. As of Tuesday, Osceola County says eight schools have reported the presence of COVID-19 on their campus and Seminole County says seven schools have been impacted. The Brevard County teachers union says cases were reported across 12 schools before classes began. It is a common protocol for districts to request anyone who may have had exposure to self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.
- Seminole County CARES Act portal opens: Seminole County opened its portal Wednesday for families to apply for financial assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. The individual grant program stems from the county’s portion of CARES Act funding with leaders allocating 7 million to help those impacted by the pandemic. The county expects to wrap up its program for businesses Wednesday. Find the link to both applications here.
- Florida task force on reopening nursing homes needs more time: The state task force working on recommendations to reopen long-term care facilities and nursing homes was expected to wrap up Tuesday -- but one issue kept them from sending proposed protocols to the governor. After an hours-long meeting, members couldn’t agree on who can and cannot touch their loved ones inside facilities. Read more about their meeting and what they’ve ironed out so far here.
Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases across Central Florida as of Aug. 26:
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