ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida on Wednesday reported fewer than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases, a welcomed change after the state started the seventh month of the coronavirus pandemic with a spike in new cases due to a dump of backlogged tests.
Wednesday’s 2,402 new cases followed a trend the state saw much of August, with the number of COVID-19 cases on the decline. The new numbers bring the state’s overall total to 633,442 since March.
On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 7,569 new cases, the jump in cases largely due to a dump of backlogged test results from Quest Diagnostics, a private laboratory.
FDOH officials said had it not been for Quest’s 75,000 reported test results, which dated back to April, the agency would have reported 3,773 new cases Tuesday. Florida had not reported more than 5,000 new cases since Aug. 16.
Wednesday’s reported daily positivity rate came in at 5.63%, a drop in the statistic as the five-month backlog of Quest results sent the number up almost a full point to 6.8% the day prior.
[INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: Track Florida’s daily positivity rate below]
Florida’s positivity rate, the number of people who tested positive for the first time compared to overall tests, still remained below 10%. Medical officials say the rate should be below 10% for at least two weeks to show a decline in infections, with the state working to bring the cumulative percent positive rate down to 10%, too.
The World Health Organization recommends that a region’s test positivity rate needs to be below 5% for at least 14 days to relax restrictions as this means the level of coronavirus transmission relative to the amount of testing is low with little chance of spiking. The organization notes this is not the same as herd immunity.
Florida’s daily positivity rate continues to hover near 5%, with the statistic remaining below 10% for more than two weeks.
As far as hospitalizations, the state reported 299 new patients on Wednesday, bringing the number of people who stayed in hospitals due to the virus since March to 39,158. The Agency for Health Care Administration also tracks current hospitalizations within the state. As of Wednesday morning, there were 3,549 people receiving care primarily for coronavirus at hospitals across Florida.
The FDOH also reported 130 people had recently died as a result of complications from COVID-19. Virus-related deaths are often delayed in reporting, which means those individuals likely died within the past two weeks. Florida’s death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 11,651 and includes 150 non-residents who died in the state.
Here’s a breakdown of new cases in the Central Florida region, according to the FDOH for Sept. 2:
|County||Cases||New cases||Hospitalizations||New hospitalizations||Deaths||New deaths|
Public health officials are keeping a close eye on coronavirus statistics as 1.1 million K-12 students returned to schools for in-person learning.
Some Central Florida school districts have resumed classes for more than a week, with more than 350 people asked to quarantine across the region due to exposure to COVID-19.
So far, at least two Central Florida schools have had to close due to confirmed coronavirus cases. Harmony Middle School in St. Cloud shut down last week. Golfview Elementary in Rockledge announced it will be closed late Tuesday evening.
What is not fully clear yet is the number of COVID-19 cases connected to schools across the state. The Florida Department of Health has said it will release data regarding school-related cases and did momentarily last week before pulling the information off the FDOH website.
In Central Florida, some school districts have been reporting how many are told to quarantine per school while other districts are reporting only general numbers district-wide. News 6 is keeping track of that data as it becomes available in a searchable database.
[Database: Tracking coronavirus in Central Florida schools]
Here are three things you should know Wednesday about coronavirus in Central Florida:
1. Visitors at long-term care facilities: After multiple task force meetings and a push to reunite families, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Tuesday to allow some visits at long-term care facilities and nursing homes with restrictions. The biggest sticking point for task force members was being able to hug their loved ones again during potential visits. State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees and Gov. Ron Desantis agreed, under certain conditions.
2. Florida cuts ties with Quest: After a data dump Tuesday, Florida will no longer contract services with Quest Diagnostics -- one of the largest coronavirus testing labs in the nation. The private laboratory violated Florida law when it failed to report COVID-19 results in a timely manner, including the 75,000 test results dating as far back as April, the FDOH said. The tests, which were part of the FDOH’s Tuesday report, included positive results that belonged to patients who were never notified, state health officials said.
3. UCF to have fans at home games: The University of Central Florida announced fans will be welcomed at the bounce house for four home games this fall. About 11,000 fans will be allowed with 3,000 seats being offered to UCF students. However, 10 UCF players won’t be on the field as they’ve opted out of the season due to coronavirus concerns. Though the university is trying to have some semblance of a season, it is projecting to large financial loss that could last into the next school year. They’ve set up a fundraising campaign to hopefully make up the difference.