FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida health officials on Thursday said another 4,198 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, following the latest upward trend in the coronavirus pandemic.
This follows a tally of 4,115 new cases Wednesday and 4,298 infections Tuesday. The state has had at least 794,624 COVID-19 cases since official counts began in March.
While cases are up, testing positivity for new infections only dropped below 5%, according to the latest results for Florida residents. The 4.9% positivity reported Thursday followed three straight days above the level that experts say points to more virus spread.
The state Department of Health also reported that another 77 people have died from COVID-19. These fatalities mostly happened in recent weeks but were just reported to the state in the past day.
The overall toll is 16,854 deaths, which includes 206 nonresidents who died in the state.
These figures are under scrutiny. Florida officials last week said they are reviewing all pandemic deaths to ensure that the figures are correct, since some doctors are reporting them up to three months after the death.
Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently determined the true number of pandemic deaths could be up to 25% higher by including people who are listed as having died of other causes. This means up to 8,000 more people might have died as a result of the pandemic even if they weren't infected or if their infections killed them without being detected.
Public health experts say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. "The higher the percent positive is, the more concerning it is," say Johns Hopkins University epidemiologists. "As a rule of thumb, however, one threshold for the percent positive being 'too high' is 5%."
Florida exceeds 5% by one of its two measures of assessing the rate.
In the first calculation, the state reported a daily positivity rate of 4.9% on Thursday, down from 5.42% on Wednesday. This method of calculating positivity counts new infections only, but also counts repeat negative tests.