Florida adds 8,376 coronavirus cases and reports nearly 100 deaths

©Miami Herald

People line up to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing site at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. - Greg Lovett/Palm Beach Post/TNS

MIAMI — Florida’s Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed 8,376 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s known total to 961,676. Also, 97 new resident deaths were announced, bringing the resident toll to 18,254.

Two new non-resident deaths were also announced, bringing the non-resident toll to 228, according to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.

Florida has the third-highest number of total confirmed cases in the country after Texas and California, according to the New York Times COVID-19 database.

CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES IN SOUTH FLORIDA

— Miami-Dade County reported 2,120 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths, according to Florida’s Department of Health. The county has a total of 220,414 confirmed cases and 3,792 deaths.% positivity for new cases decreased from 7.74% to 7.44%.

— Broward County reported 802 additional confirmed cases and eight new deaths. The county now has a known total of 103,440 cases and 1,638 deaths.% positivity for new cases decreased from 6.88% to 6.03%.

— Palm Beach County saw 449 additional confirmed cases and seven new deaths. The county now has 63,146 confirmed cases and 1,670 deaths.% positivity for new cases increased from 6.06% to 7.10%.

— Monroe County confirmed 47 additional cases and no new deaths. The county has a known total of 3,204 cases and 27 deaths.% positivity for new cases increased from 5.48% to 11.62%.

COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATIONS IN FLORIDA

One of the tools that 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 3:02 p.m. Wednesday, there were 3,723 [COVID\-19 patients admitted into hospitals]( throughout the state, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration dashboard. This is a big jump from what the state was reporting last month though it’s still less than early August, when [more than 5,000 COVID\-19 patients](

Of Tuesday’s hospitalizations, 548 were in Miami-Dade, 396 in Broward, 259 in Palm Beach and seven in Monroe, according to the agency.

The state has had a total of 54,133 Florida residents hospitalized for COVID-19-related complications, according to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.

COVID-19 TESTING IN FLORIDA

Testing in Florida [has seen steady growth](

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.

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 128,226 people tested on Tuesday. The positivity rate of new cases (people who tested positive for the first time) decreased from 7.47% to 7.10%.

If retests are included — people who have tested positive once and are being tested for a second time — the positivity rate decreased from 9.21% to 8.94%, according to the report.

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©2020 Miami Herald