MIAMI — Florida’s Department of Health on Thursday confirmed 497 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total of confirmed cases to 33,690.
Of the new reported cases, 136 are in Miami-Dade, pushing the county to surpass the 12,000 mark. The county now has a total of 12,063 known cases.
Health officials also announced 50 new deaths statewide, bringing the death toll in the state to 1,268. Of the new deaths, 25, or half of the statewide total, were in South Florida:
— Fourteen people died in Miami-Dade County, bringing the county’s death count to 352 — Florida’s highest death toll.
— In Broward, three people died, raising the county’s death count to 185.
— Palm Beach County reported eight new deaths, bringing the county’s toll to 186.
But the number of deaths being reported by the state Department of Health may be incomplete. The list of coronavirus deaths being compiled by Florida’s medical examiners has shown the death count was as much as 10% higher than what the Florida Department of Health has released.
The list had previously been released in real time by the state Medical Examiners Commission, which normally releases death counts during events such as hurricanes that lead to deaths.
But earlier this month, after the Tampa Bay Times reported about the discrepancy, state officials told the commission not to release the list, saying it needed to be reviewed and possibly redacted.
Of the statewide total of confirmed cases, 32,801 are Florida residents and 889 are nonresidents who were diagnosed or isolated in the state.
Thursday’s daily total of known COVID-19 cases and deaths is higher than Wednesday’s (347 additional cases and 47 deaths) but is still lower than the totals reported earlier in the week.
Wednesday’s daily total of new confirmed cases is still the lowest total reported in Florida since Saturday, when the state confirmed 306 additional cases of COVID-19 and decreased its COVID-19 case updates from twice a day to once a day.
Despite the daily reports of new cases and deaths, local and state officials have previously said that the decreases in the daily total of reported cases are signs that the statewide social distancing measures are working.
On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida would start lifting its stay-at-home orders Monday. Florida’s reopening plan, which would allow restaurants and shops to reopen with limited capacity, does not currently include Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, where the pandemic has hit the hardest.
His decision was announced on the same day that Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County reopened parks, marinas, golf courses and other recreational facilities, except beaches, for limited recreational activity.
The three counties make up more than half of the known COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state. Miami-Dade has the most known cases and deaths in the state.
The only county in South Florida allowed to reopen is Monroe. Health officials reported one new case in the Florida Keys, bringing the county total of known cases to 79. There were also no deaths or hospitalizations reported, leaving its toll at three people who died and its hospitalizations at nine.
As of Thursday morning, here’s what Florida’s Department of Health data showed:
— Miami-Dade County had 136 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising the county total to 12,063 confirmed cases.
The county saw a small increase in new daily cases after the last four days saw a steady decline from 346 new cases reported on Sunday to 96 on Wednesday.
At the same time, the county saw a minor increase in those tested from Wednesday to Thursday. On Thursday, 1,525 new tests were reported while Wednesday saw 1,160. This increase also marks a break from a steady decline in new test results since Sunday when 2,833 tests were reported.
Those who have fallen ill range from the age of 0 to 105. (A person who is listed as age zero means they are younger than 1 year old.) The county has had 1,522 hospitalizations and 352 deaths, Florida’s highest death toll.
— Broward County reported 55 additional confirmed cases, raising the county total of confirmed cases to 4,953. Similar to Miami-Dade, Broward saw a small increase in new daily cases after days of data showing a steady decline.
On Sunday, the county saw 70 new cases compared to the 51 reported on Wednesday and then a small spike to 55 on Thursday.
Daily testing in the county also saw a similar trend to that of new reported cases. After four days of a steady decline, from 927 new tests reported Sunday to 562 on Wednesday, there was a small increase Thursday, which saw 690 new tests.
Those who have fallen ill range from the age of 0 to 102. The county has had 995 hospitalizations and 185 deaths.
— Palm Beach County had 52 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising the county total to 2,963. The number of new cases in the county has been volatile over the last few days.
On Monday, 66 new cases were reported and then spiked to 114 cases on Tuesday before seeing a sharp decline to 34 new cases on Wednesday. This rise and fall in new cases can also be seen in new daily test results.
Those who have fallen ill range from the age of 0 to 104. The county has had 440 hospitalizations and 186 deaths.
— Monroe County reported one additional confirmed cases of the disease, bringing the county total of known cases to 79. Those who have fallen ill range from age 6 to 80. The Florida Keys have had three deaths and nine hospitalizations.
Testing in Florida has seen a steady growth since the COVID-19 crisis began, but hasn’t hit the 33,000 daily testing benchmark needed to safely reopen restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses, according to epidemiologists.
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.
On Thursday, the state recorded 15,531 new tests, or about half of what health experts say is needed.
This continues the trend of a steady decline in daily testing since Florida saw its highest day of testing on Sunday with 25,563 new tests.
It’s unclear if the decline in test results is because there are fewer people requesting tests or because they can’t access them.
As of Thursday, the state said it has conducted 382,966 tests. Of those, 33,690, or 8.80%, came back positive. The state said 1,187 tests were still pending results.
Health experts told the Miami Herald earlier this month they were concerned the number of pending COVID-19 tests listed by the state is an undercount because Florida reports only the number of Floridians waiting to get test results from state labs, not private ones — and private labs are completing more than 90% of state tests.
(Miami Herald staff writers Daniel Chang and Ben Conarck contributed to this report.)
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