Florida COVID-19 caseload doubles in late March over early in the month

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the second time in March did not update its COVID-19 case and death counts for Florida. And once again, federal and state health officials did not explain why.

But the state published its latest numbers separately, showing infection tallies more than doubling in late March.

Feds and state out of sync on COVID data again

The CDC could not update its weekly COVID infection update for Florida because of a “potential technical issue,” it said Thursday. When asked Friday, CDC spokesman Nick Spinelli said to ask the Florida Department of Health. That department did not respond Friday to a request for comment either.

When the CDC last updated its total case count for Florida on March 23, it used numbers state health officials had published the week before that. Those numbers included about 16,000 cases the CDC had not previously recorded.

The state Health Department released its biweekly report Friday hinting at a higher statewide COVID caseload in the last two weeks of March than the two weeks before.

A health worker administers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic in Reading, Pa.
A health worker administers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic in Reading, Pa.

Caseload more than doubles, hospitalizations flat

26,580 new infections in the two weeks ending Friday — more than double what state health officials logged from March 3 to 17. (Source: Florida Department of Health).

1,073 hospital patients Friday. Hospitalizations have remained below 1,100 for seven weeks straight for the first time since the week ending Nov. 12. It’s far lower than almost 3,000 during the first week of January. But it’s still hundreds more than April 2022. (Source: U.S. Health and Human Services Department)

More: A mystery: 16,000 previously uncounted COVID cases added to Florida's total

For subscribers: Former Florida COVID data chief Rebekah Jones sues to get her old job back with back pay

More: Paycheck Protection Program fraud target of new Palm Beach County task force

Latest sewage data: Low and flat

Wastewater, which reveals coronavirus trends sooner than official case counts, shows viral levels remain far lower than their winter peaks.

Sewage readings from Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Orange, Alachua, Hillsborough, Leon, Pinellas and Seminole counties continue to show viral loads well below their January peaks.

Should you mask up indoors? Why we don't know

The CDC’s masking recommendation is unavailable this week because it did not collect updated infection data from Florida.

The CDC last week did not recommend indoor masking anywhere in Florida to prevent strain on local hospitals as COVID-positive patient tallies and case counts continued declining.

New deaths rise

444 deaths were added to Florida’s COVID death toll in the two weeks ending Friday. That’s more than the 291 people state health officials recorded from March 3 to 17. Fatalities can take weeks to enter official statistics. (Source: Florida Department of Health).

Florida vaccination rates still among nation's worst

30.1% — Floridians 65 and older who have gotten the latest booster*

42.1% — Seniors boosted nationwide**

11.3% — Floridians up to date on shots

16.5% — Americans up to date

87,585 Floridians killed, excluding more than 3,000 that state auditors discovered in 2020, which the state Health Department did not count.

More than 7.5 million infected in Florida, which is more than 1 in 3 residents.

*Those 65 and older comprise the vast majority of COVID deaths.

**Only seniors in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee have less protection than those in Florida.

Chris Persaud is The Palm Beach Post's data reporter. Email him at cpersaud[at]pbpost.com. Click @ChrisMPersaud and follow him on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Florida COVID-19 caseload doubles in late March; no updates from CDC