Florida’s COVID-19 case count tops 3.5 million with 53,580 deaths

For the fourth week in a row, Florida Department of Health reported fewer new COVID-19 cases than the previous week. DOH reported 56,325 new cases (8,046 a day) for the week of Sept. 17-23 compared to 75,906 (10,843 a day) from Sept. 10-16.

The cumulative total since March 2020 climbed to 3,539,272.

DOH reported 100,012 new cases for the week of Sept. 3-9, 129,240 for Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 151,749 for Aug. 20-26, 150,118 for Aug. 13-19, 151,415 for Aug. 6-12 and 134,506 for July 30-Aug. 5.

DOH added 73,199 more cases to the tally for July 16-22, 45,603 for July 9-15, 23,748 for July 2-8, 15,978 for June 25-July 1 and 11,873 for June 18-24.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the transmission rate statewide in Florida is high. The rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 decreased by 24% compared to 23% the week before.

Hospital admissions decreased by 21%. Two percent of hospitals statewide were reporting supply shortages and 20% reported staff shortages.

Death rate

DOH reported a statewide death toll of 53,580 — 2,340 more than the week of Sept. 10-16 when deaths totaled 51,240, which was an increase of 2,468 from the week of Sept. 3-9.

This increase in deaths is not unexpected after past weeks’ increases in case numbers. Officials refer to the death rate as a “lagging indicator,” meaning deaths typically occur at varying times after a case is diagnosed. In addition, reporting of deaths doesn’t always happen in a timely manner.

According to the CDC, the rate of deaths per 100,000 in Florida decreased by 74% compared to an increase of 1% the week before.

As of Sept. 16, 22 deaths had been reported in children under age 16 (three more than the week before), 361 in the age group 16-29 (21 more than the week before), 881 for ages 30-39 (89 more than the week before), 2,188 for ages 40-49 (166 more than the week before), 5,010 for ages 50-59 (367 more than the week before), 4,252 for ages 60-64 (260 more than the week before) and 40,866 for ages 64 and up (1,434 more than the week before).

Positivity rate

The state’s new case positivity rate decreased falling to 8.6% for the week of Sept. 17-23 compared to 11.2% for the week of Sept. 10-16.

The positivity rate has been steadily declining. DOH reported a rate of 13.5% for the week of Sept. 3-9 and 15.2% for Aug. 27-Sept. 2, which was a decrease from 16.8% from the week of Aug. 20-26 and the first decline in the positivity rate since July.

The highest positivity rate, 11.2%, was reported in the age group 12-19 followed by 10.2% for those under age 12 and 8.9% for ages 30-39 and ages 40-40.

The lowest positivity rate, 6.4%, was reported in ages 65 and above with 7.2% for the age group 60-64 and 7.8% for ages 50-59.

Pinellas County

In Pinellas County, the new case positivity rate for the week of Sept. 17-23 was 7.9% compared to 11.8% for Sept. 10-16.

DOH reported a positivity rate of 14.7% for Sept. 3-9, 16.3% for Aug. 27-Sept. 2 and 18% reported for Aug. 20-26.

Pinellas County’s new case count for the week of Sept. 17-23 went up by 2,147 (307 a day) compared to 3,506 for the week of Sept. 10-16. The cumulative case count rose to 130,021.

DOH reported 4,430 new cases for the week of Sept. 3-9, 5,683 for the week of Aug. 27-Sept. 2 and 6,720 for Aug. 20-26.

The CDC reports that the transmission rate in Pinellas is high with a 20% decrease in new cases over the past seven days. New hospital admissions totaled 493. New admissions decreased by 21%. CDC reported 136 deaths in the past seven days with a death rate of 13.95 per 100,000.

Pinellas County launched its new COVID-19 dashboard Sept. 17, visit https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/dashboard/.

The dashboard includes details on testing, vaccinations and information from local hospitals. As of Sept. 25, all hospitals in the county were reporting high stress to extreme stress for the percent of inpatient beds being used for COVID patients. High to moderate stress was being reported for ICU beds. Countywide 74% of regular beds and 74% of ICU beds were in use.

The highest occupancies reported were at Baycare Alliant Hospital in Dunedin with 27% of regular beds in use by COVID patients with 112% of beds overall in use.

Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor reported 24% of regular beds in use by COVID patients and 87% of beds in use overall with 37% of ICU beds being used by COVID patients and 98% of all ICU beds in use.

The hospital reporting the lowest stress levels was Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg with moderate levels with 10% occupancy of regular beds by COVID patients and 58% occupancy overall. Low stress was reported in ICU beds with 10% occupancy by COVID patients and 52% overall.

Information about COVID in Pinellas is available at https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/.

Vaccination rate

DOH reports that the state’s vaccination rate increased by 1% from the week of Sept. 17-23. Seventy-one percent of ages 12 and older have received at least one dose.

As of Sept. 23, DOH reported that 13,536,473 Floridians had received a COVID-19 shot with 1,866,237 receiving a first-dose only and 11,350,700 completing the one- or two-shot series. DOH also reported that 319,536 had taken the additional booster shot.

According to DOH, 88% of those 65 and older had received at least one shot, 83% of ages 60-64, 76% of ages 50-59, 70% of ages 40-49, 62% of ages 30-39, 52% of ages 20-29 and 54% of ages 12-19.

In Pinellas County, 590,306 had received at least one dose of vaccine out of a population of 992,298, or 66%, the same as last week. According to the county’ dashboard, 63.8% have received at least one shot, and 56.7% of residents are fully vaccinated, meaning they have received either one or two-shots as required.

United States and global numbers

According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of the afternoon of Sept. 25, 42.88 million cases and 687,572 deaths had been reported in the United States, and 231.37 million cases had been reported worldwide with 4.74 million deaths. According to the dashboard, 56% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.

Corrected death rate