Florida’s COVID-19 case count nearly doubles: Positivity rates continue to rise

Florida made the national news July 16 when a White House official said nearly 20% of new COVID-19 cases were occurring in Florida.

According to a story by The Hill, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters during a briefing Friday that, “Just four states accounted for more than 40 percent of all cases in the past week, with 1 in 5 of all cases occurring in Florida alone."

Florida Department of Health released its latest report on July 16 with numbers for the week of July 9-15. The state’s case count nearly doubled, going from 23,747 for the week of July 2-8 to 45,603, upping the cumulative total since March 2020 to 2,406,809.

For the week of June 25-July 1, 15,978 new cases were reported and 11,873 during the week of June 18-24.

Florida’s death toll climbed to 38,388, which is 231 more than the week of July 2-8 when 172 deaths were confirmed. The week of June 25-July 1, DOH reported 213 deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, transmission of COVID-19 in the state is substantial, up from moderate last week. The rate of new COVID-19 cases was up 61% and hospital admissions increased 31%. The rate of deaths decreased 12%.

The new case positivity rate statewide climbed to 11.5% compared to 7.8% for the week of July 2-8. The state’s positivity rate has been steadily rising. DOH reported a positivity rate for new cases at 5.2% for June 25-July 1, 3.8% for the week of June 18-24, 3.3% for June 11-17 and 3.4% for June 4-10.

In Pinellas County, the positivity rate increased to 9.2% compared to 6.1% reported for the week of July 2-8. DOH reported a positivity rate for new cases in Pinellas at 3.7% for June 25-July 1, 3% for June 18-24, 2.7% for June 11-17 and 2.3% for June 4-10.

Pinellas County’s new case count also more than doubled with DOH reporting 1,365 more for the week of July 9-15. DOH reported 569 new cases for July 2-8, up from 393 new cases for June 25-July 1 and 347 new cases reported June 18-24. The cumulative case total climbed to 82,880. DOH reported 323 new cases for June 11-17 and 301 new cases for June 4-10.

The CDC reports that the transmission rate in Pinellas is substantial with a 45% increase in cases over the past seven days. New hospital admissions were less than 1%.

Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton updated county commissioners on COVID-19 during a July 13 meeting. He said the average seven-day count for new cases was rising as was the positivity rate. He urged residents to get vaccinated. He said although the vaccine is not 100% effective, it does help lessen the severity of the illness.

He said the vaccine is available for free at most pharmacies and other clinics. He also said it was safe and asked that anyone with questions talk to their healthcare provider.

Burton said new cases were most prevalent among ages 30-39 and 20-29 and the unvaccinated.

He noted that the Delta variant was now the most prevalent. It is very contagious and spreading throughout the nation, he said.

AdventHealth reported an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations for adults on July 15.

“The good news is that we are not seeing infections in patients who are fully vaccinated in the hospital,” said Dr. Vincent Hsu, an epidemiologist and executive director of infection prevention.

Hsu confirmed Burton’s statement that the Delta variant is now the dominant strain, noting that it was infecting fully vaccinated people, although they weren’t typically sick enough to need hospitalization.

In the same press release, Dr. Michael Keating, chief medical officers for AdventHealth for Children, strongly recommended parents to vaccinate children age 12 or older before school starts.

He said vaccine was the best protection against COVID-19.

“It doesn’t make you bulletproof against the COVID virus, but what it does is it puts Kevlar on you so you’re not going to feel the full impact of the virus,” he said.

DOH ended its daily reports of COVID-19 activity on June 2 and removed the dashboard that provided a detailed account of cases, deaths, testing and other information since March 2020.

DOH no longer provides the number of new deaths by county. As of June 2, deaths in Pinellas totaled 1,671.

Information about COVID in Pinellas and places to get vaccinated is available at https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/.

Vaccination rate up to 59%

The state’s vaccination rate for the week increased to 59% for ages 12 and older, up from 58% last week.

As of July 15, DOH reported that 11,292,335 Floridians had received a COVID-19 vaccination with 1,512,318 receiving a first-dose only and 9,780,017 completing the one- or two-shot series.

According to the DOH, 84% of those 65 and older had completed the one- or two-shot series, 74% of ages 60-64, 65% of ages 50-59, 56% of ages 40-49, 46% of ages 30-39, 38% of ages 20-29 and 33% of ages 12-19.

In Pinellas County, 512,925 had been vaccinated out of a population of 992,298, or 58%, also up 1% from last week.

United States and global numbers

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine still maintains a COVID-19 dashboard providing information on national and worldwide cases and deaths. As of 2:22 p.m. July 17, 34 million cases and 608,869 deaths had been reported in the United States, and 189.8 million cases had been reported worldwide with 4.07 million deaths. In addition, more than 3.59 billion vaccine doses had been administered.

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