ORLANDO, Fla. – State and local government leaders are asking Florida residents to be cautious this Labor Day weekend and avoid large gatherings so the downward trend of coronavirus cases can stay on course.
The Florida Department of Health on Friday reported 3,198 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 640,211 since the pandemic arrived here in March. The state also reported 103 new fatalities associated with the respiratory illness, bringing Florida’s death toll to 11,903, including 153 non-residents who died in the Sunshine State.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Administration, as of 10:30 a.m. Friday, there were 3,344 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms across the state. Since March, 39,667 people have required hospital medical care, including 239 new patients as of Friday, according to the DOH.
The positivity rate -- the percent of people who tested positive for the first time compared to the overall tests for the day-- is 5.10%. Infectious disease experts say the rate should remain below 10% for at least two weeks to show a decline in infections. Florida’s rate of infection has remained below 10% since Aug. 12.
Dr. Raul Pino, of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said recently that coronavirus data has been improving and case numbers are dropping week over week. He implored community members to help that trend continue past this weekend.
“Please, please do not make the same mistakes we all made on Memorial Day weekend. Wear your masks, watch your distance and wash your hands and we will continue to decrease this and put it under control,” Pino said.
Several Central Florida school districts plan to release COVID-19 related case information on Friday or once a week. Previously, the Florida Department of Health said it would release data regarding school-related cases and did momentarily in August only to pull it off the DOH website.
According to the DOH, the department now does not plan to release data related to school cases and it will be up to the school districts to deliver the information.
Orange County Public Schools, the region’s largest school district, has 40 schools and/or work sites connected to a total of 54 COVID-19 cases. Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said the school district plans to release updated information sometime Friday.
Florida school districts, including Orange County, are working to locate students who did not register for online or in-person options this year. OCPS enrollment is down 18,000 students below what officials projected, Jenkins said in a video to OCPS families.
“Principals, teachers, social workers and staff are diligently pursuing the students we were expecting. I want to encourage parents, guardians, family members who are aware of a change in location of one of our students to reach out to their school,” Jenkins said.
The superintendent assured school staff the OCPS is not on the brink of laying off employees due to the enrollment shortfall.
“Funding shortfalls may have an impact on school districts in the future perhaps after the New Year, but currently there will be no cuts,” she said.
Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases in the Central Florida region:
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