Florida hit with 9,989 new coronavirus cases as the death toll nears 4,000

©Miami Herald

Susan Stocker/Sun Sentinel/TNS

MIAMI — Florida’s Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed 9,989 additional cases of COVID-19, the fourth-highest single-day total recorded since the pandemic began in March. The state now has 223,783 confirmed cases.

Florida’s highest single-day total was recorded Saturday with 11,458 cases.

There were also 48 new deaths announced, raising the statewide death toll to 3,889.

CASES IN SOUTH FLORIDA

— Miami-Dade County reported 2,916 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 new deaths. The county now has 53,974 confirmed cases and 1,068 deaths, the highest in the state.

— Broward County reported 1,186 additional confirmed cases of the disease and one new death. The county now has 23,781 known cases and 419 deaths.

— Palm Beach County saw 593 additional confirmed cases and six new deaths. The county now has 18,231 confirmed cases and 569 deaths.

— Monroe County reported 29 additional cases of the disease and one new death. The Florida Keys now have 427 confirmed cases and six deaths.

One of the tools that officials are relying on to determine whether 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.

Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance dashboard does not reflect the number of people currently hospitalized and only provides the total number of hospitalizations in its statewide and county-level data.

Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office confirmed to the Miami Herald that the state would start reporting current hospitalization numbers for all counties.

The change comes following a surge of cases in recent weeks and as public health experts and the nonprofit COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer group that has become the most prolific coronavirus data collector in the country, pressure the state to start reporting current hospitalizations, saying the information is a clearer way of assessing how bad the pandemic is getting.

The governor’s office told the Miami Herald earlier this week it still planned to publicly report the data, but would not specify a timeline. Public health officials and experts have told the Herald that the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration has the data, but the agency has not responded to requests to provide it.

On Tuesday, DeSantis refused to address a Miami Herald reporter’s question as to why the state was still not making that data public during a news conference at the once-shuttered Miami Medical Center, which is owned by Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

The hospital, formerly known as Pan American Hospital, is now being repurposed as a place to treat COVID patients who are stable enough to leave a hospital but still too contagious to return to a long-term care facility, a population hardest hit by COVID-19 deaths in Florida.

On Wednesday, the state was still only providing total hospitalization counts — 333 hospitalizations were added, bringing the statewide total to 16,758.

Hospitals in Miami-Dade have been self-reporting a number of key metrics, including hospitalizations, to the county, which has made this data public for several months.

On Wednesday, Miami-Dade hospitalizations for COVID-19 complications rose to 1,688, according to Miami-Dade County’s “New Normal” dashboard. According to Wednesday’s data, 200 people were discharged and 185 people were admitted.

On Tuesday, 193 people were discharged and 184 people were admitted.

Miami Dade 7-8 hospitalization.PNG

On Wednesday, Miami-Dade hospitalizations for COVID-19 complications rose to 1,688, according to Miami-Dade County’s “New Normal” dashboard. According to Wednesday’s data, 200 people were discharged and 185 people were admitted. MIAMI-DADE COUNTY “NEW NORMAL” DASHBOARD

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

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.

On Tuesday, Florida’s Department of Health reported 48,538 new tests on Monday. The positive rate was 19.30% of the total, according to the report. In total, 2,735,238 tests have been conducted.

To date, 2,271,267 people have been tested in Florida. Of the total tested, 213,794 (about 9.41%) have tested positive. The state says there are 1,604 tests with pending results. Wednesday’s testing data was not immediately available.

The state began adding antigen test results to Florida’s case totals on Thursday. Antigen tests are a new category of tests that detect fragments of proteins found in the virus by testing samples collected by nose swabs. The FDA authorized the first antigen COVID-19 tests in May.

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(Miami Herald staff writer Samantha J. Gross contributed to this report.)

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