Florida COVID-19 cases soar past 905,000

©Miami Herald

People stand in line to be tested at the COVID-19 mobile testing facility at Miami Beach Convention Center on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. - DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS

MIAMI — Florida’s Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed 7,925 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s known total to more than 900,000 cases, at 905,248, the third-highest number of cases in the country.

Also, the state announced 87 resident deaths, bringing the resident death toll to 17,731.

The number of new deaths is the most since Oct. 21 when the state announced 105.

The state also announced one new nonresident death. On Wednesday, the cumulative nonresident toll hit 218.

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

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration reports the number of patients hospitalized statewide with a “primary diagnosis of COVID.” The data, which is updated at least every hour, does not distinguish between the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units and those in acute-care beds, which require less attention from nurses.

Previously, the state was providing only the total number of hospitalizations in its statewide and county-level data. Miami-Dade was an exception, with hospitals self-reporting a number of key metrics, including hospitalizations, to the county, which has made this data public for several months.

As of 2:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, there were 3,352 COVID-19 patients admitted into hospitals throughout the state, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration dashboard. This is a decrease from early August, when more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients were admitted into hospitals throughout the state.

Of Wednesday’s hospitalizations, 470 were in Miami-Dade, 310 in Broward, 238 in Palm Beach and eight in Monroe, according to the agency.

Florida’s current hospitalization data does not always match the hospitalization data reported in Miami-Dade’s “New Normal” dashboard. Officials say this could be for a number of reasons, including the frequency of daily updates.

The state has had a total of 52,637 Florida residents hospitalized for COVID-19-related complications, according to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.

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

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

Epidemiologists use the testing data to create a positivity rate. The rate helps them determine if a rise in cases is because of an increase in testing or whether there’s increased transmission of the virus in the community.

On Wednesday, Florida’s Department of Health reported the results of 95,706 people tested on Tuesday. The positivity rate of new cases (people who tested positive for the first time) decreased from 8.64% to 8.13%.

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©2020 Miami Herald

Vehicles line up as healthcare workers help people check in for testing at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Miami Beach Convention Center on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. - DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS
DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS
DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS
DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS
A health care worker directs a person to use a nasal swab for a self administered test at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Miami Beach Convention Center on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. - DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS
A health care worker directs a person to use a nasal swab for a self administered test at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Miami Beach Convention Center on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. - DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS
DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS
A health care worker directs a person to use a nasal swab for a self administered test at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Miami Beach Convention Center on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. - DAVID SANTIAGO/Miami Herald/TNS