ORLANDO, Fla. – On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 2,355 people have tested positive for coronavirus for the first time. With the new cases, the state has now reported 671,201 cases of the virus since March and will soon have tested five million Floridians.
According to the CDC, Florida is third in the nation for the number of people tested, only after New York and California.
Testing numbers are expected to increase among Florida’s younger population, as the University of Central Florida has plans to randomly test its students. Orange County Public Schools is also continuing its second day of student-athlete testing. The district using part of its CARES Act funding initiates a COVID-19 rapid testing program on football players, coaches and athletic trainers every other week to mitigate the spread of the virus from school to school.
Across the U.S., virus cases in children still make up a relatively small percentage of the overall total with a little more than 8% of 6.5 million cases in people 17 and under since March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Florida, 54,406 children have tested positive for the virus since March, more than 11,600 of those are new cases in the past month. There have been eight child fatalities in Florida from the virus, according to the health department.
The most at risk for serious cases of COVID-19 are older adults and those with pre-existing health conditions, according to the CDC.
The Florida Department of Health confirmed Wednesday 154 people died recently from the respiratory illness. The new fatalities from the virus bring Florida’s COVID-19 death toll to 13,100 since March, which includes 161 people who don’t live in Florida but died while in the Sunshine State.
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As of Wednesday morning, there are 2,480 people currently hospitalized with the virus around the state, according to the state Agency for Healthcare Administration. The AHCA, which oversees all health care facilities, has a running database of current COVID-19 hospitalizations whereas the DOH only reports total hospitalizations. There were 197 new people who required hospital care due to the virus on Wednesday, according to the DOH, bringing the total of hospitalized virus patients to 41,851 since March 1.
The state positivity rate -- the number of people who tested positive for the first time compared to overall tests -- was 4.47%, still well below the advised 10%.
Here are four things to know about the coronavirus for Sept. 16:
- UCF to conduct random virus testing: After three sorority houses were placed on quarantine and a series COVID-19 cases connected to the University of Central Florida Greek life, the university will begin random virus testing next week. Testing will start with 100 students who belong to Greek organizations, the university says this reasoning stems from research showing Greek life students have been at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Students will be notified via email by Thursday if they are part of the first round of testing. Testing will take place in Garage A from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23. The university will cover the cost of the tests.
- Leading doctor in Orange County urges caution: Locally, weekly coronavirus cases have continued to decline over the course of two months. Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County says though cases have been declining, he warns with bars and schools reopening and visitors allowed back to assisted living facilities, cases could increase. He emphasized that as the community edges back to normalcy its important to remain socially distant, continue best handwashing practices and to wear a mask to keep case numbers trending in the right direction.
- SeaWorld lay offs: As Central Florida theme parks struggle with limited capacity and lost revenue, SeaWorld officials have made the decision to lay off 1,896 employees. The layoffs impact hundreds of foodservice attendants, park operations hosts, performers, sales clerks and waiters and waitresses. SeaWorld furloughed 90% of its workforce a month after the virus forced a theme-park-shutdown in March. It has since reopened in June with capacity restrictions and has slowly expanded its hours since.
- US outlines plan to provide free COVID-19 vaccines: The federal government outlined a sweeping plan Wednesday to make vaccines for COVID-19 available for free to all Americans. Federal health agencies and the Defense Department sketched out complex plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or possibly later this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot. The Pentagon is involved with the distribution of vaccines, but civilian health workers will be the ones giving shots. Read more highlights from the plan here.
Below is a breakdown of coronavirus cases in the Central Florida region:
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