FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Florida faces a rough few weeks at least from COVID-19, according to experts, although there are faint signs of hope in the flurry of statistics that indicate the disease's future.
The state posted the U.S. record for new daily cases Sunday and the second-highest count on Monday, numbers that are difficult to spin as anything but indications that COVID-19 has become more entrenched. Sunday's record 15,300 new cases generated headlines around the U.S., cementing Florida's status as one of the worst-hit states in the country.
Yet the number of deaths reported Monday was the lowest in 10 days, and more important, the positivity rate for tests continued a decline started last week. Accompanying this was a sharp increase in the number of tests, as Florida ramped up the deployment of a key weapon against the disease.
Jill Roberts, assistant professor at the University of South Florida's College of Public Health, said she was "cautiously optimistic" from the decline in new cases from Sunday and the reduced positivity rate.
"The decreasing case numbers and decreasing (percentage) positives are both encouraging signs," she said. "Especially given that a large number of tests were performed. This may be a sign that social distancing measures are gaining in acceptance."
But she said an increase in hospitalizations appeared to be evidence that the feared transmission of the disease from younger to older people is taking place.
In fact, the movement of the disease to an older, more vulnerable age group appears to be taking place.
The median age of victims rose from 35 to 41 over the past 10 days, according to the Department of Health. At a news conference Monday in Miami, Jackson Health CEO Carlos Migoya said he's observed an increase in the number of older COVID-19 patients who got the disease from younger people.
And Roberts said we have yet to experience the impact of any partying that took place on July 4.
"My biggest concern at the moment is potential cases as a result of the July 4th holiday," she said. "The impact of the holiday on cases will begin to appear in the numbers in the next week."