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Florida coronavirus cases surge past 58,700 as state has biggest daily gain in 6 weeks

Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI -- Florida's Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed 1,317 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to more than 58,000. The state now has 58,764 confirmed cases of the disease.

Wednesday's daily total of newly confirmed cases is the highest the state has seen since April 17 when 1,413 cases were added. There were also 36 new deaths announced, raising the statewide toll to 2,566.

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. It has 18,456 known cases and 731 deaths.

Despite the daily reports of new cases and deaths, local and state officials have previously said that decreases in the daily total of reported cases are signs that social distancing measures are working.

Officials are also relying on hospitalization data. 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.

On Tuesday morning, 113 hospitalizations were added, raising the statewide total count to 10,525.

Scientists are also still working to learn more about the virus, including how many people in the community are infected with the disease and have mild or no symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine what percentage of the cases hospitalizations represent.

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

 

Testing, like hospitalizations, helps officials determine the virus's progress and plays a role in deciding whether it is safe to lift stay-at-home orders and loosen restrictions.

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 hit or surpassed the recommended mark a few times but is typically several thousand under.

Florida's Department of Health reported 9,353 new tests in Tuesday's daily COVID-19 update. In total, the state has done 1,050,671 tests. Of the total tested, 57,447 or 5.47% have tested positive for the disease. The state says there are 1,206 pending tests. Wednesday's testing data was not immediately available.

Health experts told the Miami Herald last month they were concerned the number of pending COVID-19 tests listed by the state is an undercount because Florida reports only the number of Floridians waiting to get test results from state labs, not private ones -- and private labs are completing more than 90% of state tests.

Previously, it has taken as long as two weeks for the results of pending tests from private labs to be added into the state's official count, making it difficult for officials to project the size and scale of the pandemic in the state. It's unclear how quickly results are currently being sent to the state from private labs.

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