COVID-19 cases decline in Florida for 5th straight week

Downward trend continues following surge caused by delta variant

People wait in cars to get a COVID-19 test, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Miami. COVID-19 has strained some Florida hospitals so much that ambulance services and fire departments can no longer respond as usual to every call. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
People wait in cars to get a COVID-19 test, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Miami. COVID-19 has strained some Florida hospitals so much that ambulance services and fire departments can no longer respond as usual to every call. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – As the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to drop in Florida, the state on Friday reported an average of 5,396 new cases per day over the last week.

This is the fifth straight week the number of weekly COVID-19 cases has declined.

The Florida Department of Health, meanwhile, filed two motions last week in Leon County circuit court, saying a public-records lawsuit seeking information about COVID-19 is requesting reports that don’t exist and the underlying data is confidential.

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The motions argue the judge should reject the lawsuit, filed by nonprofit Florida Center for Government Accountability and state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando. Until early June, the state posted daily reports on its website that provided extensive data about issues such as cases and deaths, with information also broken down by county. But Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration halted the daily reports and shifted to posting weekly information that is far less detailed.

A hearing in the case was scheduled to take place this week but was postponed due to a death in the family of a lead attorney.

In other coronavirus news, data released Friday by drugmaker Merck said an experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people who were recently infected with COVID-19.

“It exceeded what I thought the drug might be able to do in this clinical trial,” said Dr. Dean Li, vice president of Merck research. “When you see a 50% reduction in hospitalization or death that’s a substantial clinical impact.”

Pfizer submitted research to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week on the effectiveness of their COVID-19 vaccine in children. The company said Tuesday the vaccine may not be available for kids until November. According to the Associated Press, a person familiar with the approval process said, depending on how quickly the FDA acts, the shots could become available earlier in November.

The two-shot Pfizer vaccine is currently available for those 12 and older. An estimated 100 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated with it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Orange County employees had until Thursday to prove they received at least one dose of a two-shot vaccine series or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine as part of a county-issued vaccine mandate.

When Demings first announced the vaccine mandate over the summer, he said workers who did not comply could be fired but later backtracked, saying they’ll get a written reprimand instead. Earlier this month, he reiterated that stance for firefighters who do not comply with the county’s vaccine mandate.

While COVID-19 vaccines are not yet approved for children younger than 12, the discussion on masks requirements in schools continues. In Brevard County, the school board will meet next Tuesday to discuss its mandate due to pressure from the Florida Department of Education to drop the mandate and the new rule from the state health department that allows parents to opt their asymptomatic children out of quarantine protocols if they were exposed to someone with COVID-19.

The board has received two letters from the department of education asking for proof that the district is complying with the agency’s rule against mask mandates that do not allow parents to opt out and saying the state would withhold board member salaries if the district does not comply.

[READ THE LAST COVID-19 REPORT: Florida averages 8,046 new COVID cases daily as booster shots approved for older Americans]

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Oct. 1.

Cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 37,772 new cases on Friday that occurred during the past week, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,576,571 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 5,396 new infections reported per day.

Even though the Florida DOH released numbers once a week, the state is still reporting daily infections to the CDC. Below is the CDC daily number, which is 24 hours behind.

Deaths

Florida reported 233 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 55,299 actually shows there have been 1,719 new deaths added to the state total. The state has not provided any information as to when these deaths occurred.

The state stopped reporting the number of non-residents who died in Florida with its new weekly reporting method.

Hospitalizations

The state Agency for Health Care Administration deleted its current COVID-19 hospitalization database and the state is no longer reporting how many patients have been hospitalized with the virus. However, Florida is still required to report that information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC continues to release that information online. The most recent hospital numbers show 5,063 adult and 83 pediatric patients in Florida.

Positivity rate

The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 6.5% but did not provide how many people were tested during the past week. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.

Vaccinations

The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. In the new weekly reports, the state is combining the vaccination data with the COVID-19 infection numbers.

FDOH reports 13,621,499 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.

During the past week, 278,891 new people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Central Florida region

The state is no longer providing a breakdown of county-by-county deaths or hospitalizations as of June 3. The Florida DOH is also no longer providing county numbers for non-residents who have tested positive, causing the total case numbers to drop significantly, in some counties by more than 1,000 cases.

For example, with non-resident positive cases as of June 3, Orange County had reported a total of 143,198 but with the state’s new reporting method, the county has 141,941 total cases, a difference of 1,257 positive cases.

Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases and new vaccination numbers between Sept. 24 - Sept. 30, 2021.

CountyTotal cases as of Sept. 30New cases since Sept. 24Total people vaccinatedPercent of 12+ population vaccinated
Brevard79,247772361,78667%
Flagler14,07214171,73769%
Lake52,9331,000225,03668%
Marion55,600614203,11362%
Orange223,2972,365912,41273%
Osceola70,069681265,66878%
Polk125,8791,455394,60364%
Seminole60,718719288,47968%
Sumter14,16217196,10673%
Volusia73,507939315,61765%

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About the Author:

Brenda, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando.com team in March 2021.