Florida’s weekly COVID update: 73,166 cases, 61 percent over last week, up 7 times since June

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Florida’s surge of COVID-19 cases escalated significantly Friday when the Florida Department of Health announced 73,166 new resident cases of COVID-19 since last Friday, 61 percent higher than the already high rates from last week’s report and more than seven times of where they were in mid-June.

On Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy noted in an interview with McClatchy that in Florida “cases are rising at an alarming rate, hospitalizations are going up, and deaths are going up.”

Last July was the worst month of the Florida pandemic, with daily case counts routinely topping 10,000. As of Thursday, Florida recorded 13,256 new daily COVID cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, the highest single day count since January.

The seven-day case average for Florida increased from 6,492 to 10,452 over the past week.

Miami-Dade, which represents about 10 percent of the state’s population, is accounting for about 15 percent of the state’s new cases, based on Friday’s report.

The surge of cases is being driven by the virulent Delta variant, fewer people wearing masks and social distancing, and millions of people in the state who have not been vaccinated. As of Friday, 67.1 percent of Floridians 18 and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 57.9 percent of those 18 and over in the state have been fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times.

The state also reported 282 new deaths, up from 231 new deaths from July 16, the last time the state published its weekly COVID report. Last Friday, the state reported 45,449 new resident COVID-19 cases across Florida.

8 million people in Florida are not vaccinated despite being eligible

About 8 million people in Florida who are eligible for the vaccine have not been vaccinated, according to estimates by Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist and professor with the University of South Florida in Tampa who has been tracking the pandemic since 2020.

New weekly case totals have been rapidly rising since last month when state health officials reported 10,095 cases from June 11-17. Friday’s 73,166 cases represent a 624 percent increase since that period five weeks ago.

Vaccine rates in Florida are ‘quite low’ in some pockets of state

Murthy, in the McClatchy interview on Thursday, said pockets of the state with low vaccination rates were contributing to rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

“The challenge we have in Florida, and in far too many states, is we still don’t have vaccination rates high enough, and in some pockets, we have actually vaccination rates that are quite low,” he said. “And the consequence of that is that COVID is now spreading very quickly in those populations. So that’s what concerns me.”

The totals given by the state do not represent non-Florida resident cases and deaths — people who either contracted the disease or died from it while in Florida — because the state stopped reporting those metrics in late May when it pulled its daily reports.

At that time, there were 744 non-resident deaths and 43,535 non-resident cases, cumulatively.

The state’s seven-day percent positivity rate increased from 11.5% to 15.1%; the state sits at a 17.3% positivity rate since the pandemic began.

The health department is no longer reporting daily case numbers, just weekly cumulative counts. The CDC is reporting daily case counts of every state, based on the data the states report to the federal agency.

More than 9.9 million Floridians have completed the two-dose series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, or have completed Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine. Another 1.5 million have completed their first vaccine dosage, bringing the total number of Floridians who have been fully or partially vaccinated to around 11.4 million, or 59 percent of Floridians who are 12 and older.

COVID-19 in Florida

Here’s a breakdown of how many new COVID-19 cases were reported this past week in South Florida and Manatee County. The Miami Herald can no longer include new deaths because the state stopped classifying deaths by county in its report.

Miami-Dade County reported 11,104 new resident cases in the week ending July 22, according to the health department.

The Miami Herald calculates there were 11,087 new resident cases based on released weekly reports.

The county has recorded at least 533,821 confirmed cases and 6,472 deaths.

In Miami-Dade, 1,926,953 people, or about 76% of eligible residents, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the state reported.

Broward County reported 6,105 new reported resident cases for the week ending July 22, according to the health department.

The Miami Herald calculates there were 6,055 new resident cases based on released weekly reports.

The county has now recorded at least 262,319 confirmed cases and 3,079 deaths.

In Broward, 1,155,963 people, or about 68% of residents 12 years old and older, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the state reported.

Palm Beach County reported 3,972 new reported resident cases as of the week ending July 22, according to the health department.

The Miami Herald calculates there were 3,981 new resident cases based on released weekly reports.

The county has now recorded at least 159,598 confirmed cases and 2,883 deaths.

In Palm Beach County, 831,451 people, or about 64% of residents 12 years old and older, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the state reported.

Monroe County reported 123 new reported resident cases as of the week ending July 22, according to the health department.

The Miami Herald calculates there were 115 new resident cases based on released weekly reports.

The county has now recorded at least 7,535 confirmed cases and 52 deaths.

In the Florida Keys, 47,392 people, or about 69% of residents 12 years old and older, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the state reported.

Manatee County reported 998 new reported resident cases as of the week ended July 22, according to the health department.

The Miami Herald calculates there were 991 new resident cases based on released weekly reports.

The county has now recorded at least 42,482 confirmed cases and 689 deaths.

In Manatee, 206,729 people, or about 58% of residents 12 years old and older, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the state reported.

Florida COVID-19 Variant Cases

Several variants of COVID-19 have proliferated since the beginning of the pandemic. There are eight variants currently being tracked across the globe.

Four of the variants have been classified as variants of concern by the CDC and World Health Organization: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.

All the variants of concern have been recorded in Florida, with Miami-Dade having the most variant cases at 4,545 this year.

Variant data recorded by the state serve as benchmarks to see their proliferation. A normal COVID test does not identify a variant.

A more thorough, deeper analysis must be done and since it is costly, only a fraction of tests are analyzed for variants.

Since the beginning of this year to July 15, the Florida Department of Health has released the following variant data:

Alpha: There have been 19,438 COVID-19 cases linked to the Alpha variant this year in Florida. The state also reported 538 hospitalizations from the variant.

Over the last 15 days, 3,361 more Alpha variant cases were reported and 190 more hospitalizations.

Beta: There have been 103 COVID-19 cases linked to the Beta variant. The state also reported six hospitalizations from the variant.

Over the last 15 days, 19 more Beta variant cases were reported and two more hospitalizations.

Gamma: There have been 2,502 COVID-19 cases linked to the Gamma variant. The state also reported 111 hospitalizations from the variant.

Over the last 15 days, 957 more Gamma variant cases were reported and 60 more hospitalizations.

Delta: There have been 877 COVID-19 cases linked to the Delta variant. The state also reported 29 hospitalizations from the variant.

The Florida Department of Health did not report Delta variant cases in Friday’s report. The state also did not include variant breakdowns per county.

Miami Herald Reporter Ana Claudia Chacin contributed to this report.

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