Coronavirus death toll in Florida now past 2,000 as the number of cases nears 47,000

Florida’s Department of Health on Tuesday morning confirmed 502 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total of confirmed cases closer to 47,000. The state now has a total of 46,944 known cases.

There were also 55 new deaths announced, pushing the statewide death toll to hit and surpass 2,000. The toll is now at 2,052.


Less than half of the new cases and deaths were in South Florida:

Miami-Dade County reported 78 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12 new deaths. The county’s known total is now at 15,942 with 578 deaths, the highest in the state.

Broward County reported 47 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one new death. The county’s confirmed total is now at 6,369 with 282 deaths.

Palm Beach County saw 41 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths. The county’s known total is now at 4,699 with 284 deaths.

Monroe County did not confirm any additional cases of the disease or any new deaths. The Florida Keys have a total of 99 cases and three deaths.

In total, more than half of the state’s known COVID-19 cases are in South Florida’s four counties: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe. Miami-Dade continues to lead the state with the most confirmed cases and deaths.

Here’s a breakdown on what you need to know:

Weekend spike of cases in Miami-Dade tied to testing backlog

On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed that a weekend spike of about 550 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Miami-Dade County was largely due to a backlog of three-week-old test results from an undisclosed testing site. He said the site was “not affiliated with the state.”

Tuesday saw 39,452 new tests reported, bringing the state total to 717,162 conducted tests. Only 6.55 percent of cases are positive and 668,911 tests are negative.

Last month, the Miami Herald reported that the Florida Department of Health had been significantly under-reporting its COVID-19 testing backlog from private labs. Department officials still won’t say how many pending tests there are and have refused to provide copies of private lab contracts to the Miami Herald despite repeated requests since March 21.

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.

The jump in COVID-19 cases was also accompanied by a rise in hospitalizations throughout the county that coincided with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez lifting the emergency closure order on most businesses — relief he had tied to improvements in both metrics.

Monday was the first day that select businesses across Miami-Dade and Broward counties were allowed to have a limited reopening following South Florida’s COVID-19 shutdown. The two counties were the last in the state to receive DeSantis’ approval to reopen.

Gimenez said during a news conference Monday in Opa-locka that the increased hospitalization rate was because the county saw an increase of residents in long-term care facilities being sent to hospitals for COVID-19 treatment.

Listen to today’s top stories from the Miami Herald:

COVID-19 hospitalizations and testing in Florida

Testing in Florida has seen a steady growth since the COVID-19 crisis began and has begun to see a steady decline in the percentage of people testing positive.

The recommended numbers of daily tests needed vary by experts, but the dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine told the governor Florida needs to test about 33,000 people every day. The state has yet to hit that mark.

As of Monday, the state has done a total of 677,710 tests since the pandemic began. Of the total tested, 46,442 or about 7 percent have tested positive for the disease. The state says 1,346 tests are still pending results. Tuesday’s testing data was not immediately available.

Unlike testing, which might be limited or take days to report results, hospitalizations can help give officials a real-time visual of how many people are severely ill with COVID-19.

The health department says it doesn’t “have a figure” to reflect the number of people currently hospitalized and only provides the total number of hospitalizations in its statewide and county-level data.

Based on the health department’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, the state saw 190 more hospitalizations since Monday morning, bringing the state’s hospitalization total to 8,494.

And because scientists are still working to learn more about the virus, including how many people in the community are actually infected with the disease and have mild or no symptoms, it’s difficult to determine what percentage of the cases hospitalizations represent.

Miami Herald staff writers Ben Conarck, Douglas Hanks and Samantha J. Gross contributed to this report.

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