Florida COVID deaths pass 73,000 as Orange County’s main COVID-19 site closes

Florida Department of Health transitioned to biweekly reporting of cases

Long lines at Barnett Park in Orlando where people are trying to get tested for COVID-19. (James Gosselin, Copyright 2020 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health transitioned to biweekly reporting of COVID-19 cases following a drop in infections.

Barnett Park, Orange County’s last large county-run site, closed Friday with low demand and without more federal funding.

“At some point have to transition out of providing the high cost of testing facilities and opportunities for vaccinations. There will still be opportunities through your healthcare providers, through local pharmacies and other retail community partners,” Mayor Jerry Demings said ahead of the site’s closure.

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Demings said if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 and demand for testing rises again, he is prepared to reopen a county-run testing site with county dollars.

Halifax Health, which spans across Volusia and Flagler counties, reported for the first time since the start of the pandemic no patients in their care tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, U.S. airlines and flight attendants are asking the federal government to drop the mask mandate for planes. In a letter sent to President Joe Biden from the the heads of Jet Blue, Southwest, Delta, American Airlines, the airline leaders said the mask requirement is “no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment.”

A union representing 16,000 Southwest flight attendants is also asking for an end to the federal mask mandate on planes. The group cites the dramatic drop in cases and an increase in verbal and physical attacks related to enforcing the mandate.

Last week, a group of pilots sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an effort to remove the federal mask mandate. The pilots, who work for American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines, said the mandate is illegal and unconstitutional. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in on the issue, saying the mandate should be lifted.

“You go on an airplane (and) if you just want to sit there and read a magazine without a mask, they say that’s the worst thing in the world. But the person right next to you pulls their mask down and fakes sipping on water for two hours (and) they don’t have to wear the mask. I mean, give me a break. This is theater,” DeSantis said.

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the CDC and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services on March 25:

Cases

The CDC reported 1,415 new cases on Friday, based on daily reporting it gets from the Florida Dept. of Health.

There were 16,741 new coronavirus cases over the last two weeks. This was reached by subtracting the Florida Dept. of Health’s cumulative number of cases two weeks ago (5,824,728), from the state reported overall total of 5,841,469 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.

Deaths

The Florida Dept. of Health reported a cumulative death toll in Florida of 73,027. There were 1,167 fatalities recorded over the past two weeks, which we get by subtracting the number of deaths reported by DOH two weeks ago (71,860) from the current cumulative death toll of 73,027.

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

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 852 adult and 19 pediatric patients in Florida.

Positivity rate

The Florida Dept. of Health reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 2.3% for the week of March 18-24 but did not provide how many people were tested during the past two weeks. 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.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter and go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.


About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.