Florida sees more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases and 98 deaths

©Miami Herald

Health care worker Christine Chichester swabs a boy's nose for COVID-19 testing at a Healthcare District Mobile Testing unit set up outside the community center in Greenacres, Florida on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. - Greg Lovett/Palm Beach Post/TNS

MIAMI — Florida’s Department of Health on Thursday confirmed 10,870 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s known total to 1,029,030. Also, 98 new resident deaths were announced, bringing the resident toll to 18,874.

The cumulative nonresident death toll increased by two to 238 deaths.

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 2,254 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight new deaths, according to Florida’s Department of Health. The county has a total of 236,308 confirmed cases and 3,868 deaths. Percent positivity for new cases decreased from 9.77% to 9.38%.

— Broward County reported 1,157 additional confirmed cases and 14 new deaths. The county now has a known total of 110,517 cases and 1,687 deaths. Percent positivity for new cases decreased from 8.59% to 7.99%.

— Palm Beach County saw 679 additional confirmed cases and 10 new deaths. The county now has 67,106 confirmed cases and 1,709 deaths. Percent positivity for new cases decreased from 8.01% to 7.52%.

— Monroe County confirmed 54 additional cases and no new deaths. The county has a known total of 3,480 cases and 28 deaths. Percent positivity for new cases decreased from 11.96% to 8.63%.

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 4:31 p.m. EST Thursday, there were 4,290 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 were admitted into hospitals throughout the state.

Of Thursday’s hospitalizations, 782 were in Miami-Dade, 432 in Broward, 274 in Palm Beach and eight in Monroe, according to the agency.

The state has had a total of 55,820 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 Thursday, Florida’s Department of Health reported the results of 146,910 people tested on Wednesday. The positivity rate of new cases (people who tested positive for the first time) decreased from 9.11% to 8.19%.

If retests are included — people who have tested positive once and are being tested for a second time — the positivity rate decreased from 10.86% to 9.84%, according to the report.

———

©2020 Miami Herald