FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida’s key coronavirus indicators worsened Tuesday with signs the virus is spreading more out of control across the state.
As another 4,637 people tested positive for COVID-19, the seven-day average for new cases (4,341) rose to its highest level since Aug. 20, according to state health department data.
Hospitalizations for a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 have increased 6.1% in the past week statewide. It’s a nearly 20% increase just in Broward County, which had 251 patients midday Tuesday, up from 210 the previous week.
And Florida had its worst day for COVID-19 testing positivity since Aug. 17. The rate for new infections only went up to 7.58%, based on the state’s reporting. Public health experts say anything over 5% shows the virus is more prevalent in the community.
For now, COVID-19 deaths are continuing to trend downward. The seven-day average for fatalities linked to the virus was down to 47 on Tuesday, the lowest it’s been since it was at the same level on July 6.
But epidemiologists say pandemic deaths are certain to increase, because fatalities follow periods of higher cases like the state has been experiencing. After the July surge of cases in Florida, the state had a peak seven-day average of 184 deaths on Aug. 5.
To date, at least 17,099 people have died from COVID-19 in Florida, including 209 nonresidents who died in the state. Most of the 56 deaths reported Tuesday happened in recent weeks but were just confirmed in the past day.
Without explanation, the state posted its daily coronavirus numbers more than four hours late on Tuesday.
When the report was finally posted, it showed Florida still trending higher with virus infections. There have now been at least 4,000 new cases on six of the past eight days.
The total is 816,700 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March.
The number of people hospitalized in Florida for COVID-19 remained mostly unchanged in the past day, updated state records show.
As of noon Tuesday, 2,488 people across the state were hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19. That’s an increase of 16 patients from the same time the day before.
The online report from the state Agency for Health Care Administration updates frequently throughout the day. Hospitalizations hit a peak in late July of about 9,500 patients. Four weeks ago, the number was about 2,100.
Since the pandemic began, 49,715 residents have been hospitalized for the disease, state health officials say.
Tuesday’s report shows a total of 16,890 Floridians have died, including the 209 nonresidents.
Florida has the fourth-highest total of COVID-19 deaths among the states, behind California, Texas and New York, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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