Florida reports 9,585 new coronavirus cases, setting a daily record in statewide surge

©Miami Herald

DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS

MIAMI — Florida’s Department of Health on Saturday confirmed 9,585 new cases of COVID-19, surpassing Friday’s record-breaking 8,942 cases.

The new cases brings the state total of confirmed cases to 132,545.

There were also 24 new deaths announced Saturday, bringing the statewide death toll to 3,390.

In just over a week, Florida has reported nearly 40,000 new cases, which accounts for about a third of all the confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic began.

On Friday, the state suspended alcohol consumption at bars ,and Miami-Dade announced that beaches would be closed and most parades and parties canceled for July 4.

And while several Miami-Dade cities are requiring people to wear masks in public, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday refused to make a statewide mandate.

Miami-Dade County saw 1,366 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one new death. The county’s known total is now at 31,562. The death toll is at 947, the highest in the state.

Broward County reported 726 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one new death. The county’s confirmed total is now at 14,046. The death toll is at 382.

One of the tools that officials are relying on to determine if the coronavirus situation is improving in the state is hospitalization data. Unlike testing, which might be limited or take days to report results, hospitalizations can help give officials a real-time snapshot of how many people are severely ill with COVID-19.

The health department says it does not “have a figure” to reflect the number of people currently hospitalized and only provides the total number of hospitalizations in its statewide and county-level data. On Saturday, 149 hospitalizations were added, bringing the statewide total to 14,136.

While Florida’s Department of Health is not releasing current statewide hospitalization data to the public, hospitals in Miami-Dade are self-reporting a number of key metrics, including hospitalizations, to the county, which has made this data public. Some provide updates every day; others don’t.

On Saturday, 65 people were discharged and 85 new people were admitted to Miami-Dade hospitals, according to Miami-Dade County’s “New Normal” dashboard data. The county reported 917 total admitted patients, but that doesn’t include patients admitted Saturday from two facilities that reported 103 admissions Friday.

The number of admitted Miami-Dade patients has been steadily increasing since June 15, when the county had 607 patients.

While the number of hospitalizations is going up, hospital administrators say beds are still available. And most of the new cases and hospitalizations have been younger patients and not as severely ill as they were during the first wave in April.

Scientists are also still working to learn more about the virus, including how many people in the community are infected and have mild or no symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine what percentage of the cases hospitalizations represent.

Testing in Florida has seen steady growth since the COVID-19 crisis began.

Testing, like hospitalizations, helps officials determine the virus’ progress and plays a role in deciding whether it is safe to lift stay-at-home orders and loosen restrictions.

The recommended number of daily tests needed varies among experts, but the dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine told the governor that Florida needs to test about 33,000 people every day.

Florida’s Department of Health reported 78,345 new tests on Friday in Saturday’s daily COVID-19 update. The positive rate was 14.36% of the total, according to the report. In total, 2,186,400 tests have been conducted.

To date, 1,830,791 people have been tested in Florida. Of the total tested, 132,545 (about 7.24%) have tested positive. The state says there are 1,731 tests with pending results.

Health experts have previously told the Miami Herald that they were concerned the number of pending results listed by the state is an undercount. This is because Florida’s Health Department only announces the number of pending test results from state labs, not private ones — and private labs are completing more than 90% of state tests.

Previously, it has taken as long as two weeks for pending test results from private labs to be added into the state’s official count, making it difficult for officials to project the size and scale of the pandemic in the state. It’s unclear how quickly results are currently being sent to the state from private labs, as the turnaround time varies by lab.

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©2020 Miami Herald