ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health reported more than 200 new coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday along with 2,590 new cases. Florida has now seen a total of 690,499 COVID-19 cases.
The new cases come as more than 16,000 students in Central Florida are expected to return to the classroom for in-person instruction next month. Dr. Raul Pino with the FDOH in Orange County says the virus has been infecting a younger population, specifically young adults between the ages of 15 through 25. He is urging families to remain diligent about kids wearing masks and handwashing habits.
Florida has been tracking cases of the virus since it was detected in the state on March 1.
The update released by the FDOH every day includes how many people have recently died from complications of COVID-19 and how many people have been hospitalized in Florida in the past six months.
On Wednesday, state health officials reported 203 people have recently passed away due to COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, 13,782 have died in Florida from the virus, which includes 164 people who don’t live in the state but died here.
The state Agency for Healthcare Administration tracks the number of patients currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. It reports there are 2,262 patients Wednesday getting treated for the virus.
The FDOH doesn’t track current hospitalizations but the overall total. Public health officials said there were 170 new patients in its Wednesday report, bringing the state’s total COVID-19 hospitalizations to 42,941 in the past six months.
State public health officials track the spread of the virus by comparing the number of new cases with overall tests done in a day. This is known as the daily positivity rate.
Wednesday’s report revealed the state’s daily positivity rate for the day prior was 5.28% The state’s cumulative rate, which compares the total number of cases and tests, is 13.37%.
Health officials believe the daily rate should be below 10% to scale back local precautions to help stop the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization advises societies can reopen when they can keep their overall positivity rate at 5% or below.
[SEE TUESDAY’S REPORT: Florida breaks 10-day streak of COVID-19 infection rate below 5%]
Here are three things to know about the pandemic for Wednesday, Sept. 23:
- Johnson & Johnson begins huge final vaccine study: On Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson is will begin its final study to try to prove if a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine can protect against the virus. It will be one of the world’s largest coronavirus vaccine studies so far, testing the shot in 60,000 volunteers in the U.S., South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. A handful of other vaccines in the U.S. — including shots made by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. — and others in other countries are already in final-stage testing. Hopes are high that answers about at least one candidate being tested in the U.S. could come by year’s end, maybe sooner.
- Nearly 16,000 Orange County students switch to in-person learning: Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins said 15,792 students are changing from learning virtually to face-to-face and 983 are going from classrooms and switching to LaunchED. These students will start with their new learning option next month for the second quarter of the academic year. Jenkins says the switch will require some teachers to come back to the classroom. She’s also asking parents to take students to school if they can, to help with social distancing measures on school transportation.
- CDC guidance on Halloween: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging people to stay away from most of the fun activities connected to Halloween, including trick-or-treating and haunted houses. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Dr. Raul Pino with the FDOH in Orange County also voiced hesitancy in participating in traditional Halloween activities. Click here to see what COVID-compliant Halloween activities happening in your area.
Below is a breakdown of cases across Central Florida:
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