Florida’s Department of Health on Saturday morning reported a new daily record high of 2,581 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 — surpassing the previous high by 679. The previous high was hit on Friday. And the high before that was hit on Thursday.
That puts the state’s total number of confirmed cases at 73,552 since the pandemic began in March.
Forty-eight new deaths were also announced, raising the statewide death toll to 2,925.
The state slowly began to reopen in May. Now in June, most businesses across the state are open at limited capacity with social-distancing regulations in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
A Miami Herald analysis of public and non-public COVID-19 data found that as of June 3, new cases in the state had consistently been trending up since mid-May and the trends could not be attributed solely to increases in testing, which had been inconsistent and sometimes declining during that period.
And as bars, gyms, vacation rentals and movie theaters reopened at partial capacity last week in all but three South Florida counties, the number and rate of new COVID-19 cases were rising statewide — a troubling indicator that the disease could be spreading more quickly.
To learn more about the spread of the novel coronavirus in Florida and what comes next for the state, read the Miami Herald’s investigative series “A Numbers Game.”
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Florida
More than half of the new deaths — 29 — and less than half of the new cases — 1,276 — were in South Florida:
▪ Miami-Dade County reported 761 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 13 new deaths. The county now has a total of 21,633 confirmed cases and 822 deaths, the highest in the state.
▪ Broward County reported 275 additional confirmed case of the disease, bringing its known total up to 8,864. Broward added seven new deaths, bringing its count to 357.
▪ Palm Beach County saw 233 additional confirmed cases and nine new deaths. The county’s known total is now at 8,442 with 425 deaths.
▪ Monroe County reported seven additional cases of the disease and no new deaths. The Florida Keys now have a total of 128 confirmed cases and four deaths.
Here’s a breakdown on what you need to know:
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Florida
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.
According to the health department, the deaths of the 48 residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have also been reported in Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, Escambia, Hendry, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie and Volusia counties.
Since June 3, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has grown by 1,000 or more every day except for June 8, when 966 new cases were confirmed. From June 9 to Saturday the numbers surged well past 1,000 a day. This means that for 10 of the last 11 days there have been more than 1,000 confirmed cases a day, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
One of the tools that officials are relying on to determine if the novel coronavirus situation is improving in the state is 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 does not “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 Saturday, the state said 168 hospitalizations were added, raising the statewide total count to 11,874.
While Florida’s Department of Health is not releasing current statewide hospitalization data to the public, hospitals in Miami-Dade are self-reporting a number of key metrics, including hospitalizations, to the county, which has made this data public. Some provide updates every day; others don’t.
Scientists are also still working to learn more about the virus, including how many people in the community are infected and have mild or no symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine what percentage of the cases hospitalizations represent.
COVID-19 testing in Florida
Testing in Florida has seen steady growth since the COVID-19 crisis began.
Testing, like hospitalizations, helps officials determine the virus’ progress and plays a role in deciding whether it is safe to lift stay-at-home orders and loosen restrictions.
The recommended number of daily tests needed varies among experts, but the dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine told the governor that 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 39,815 new tests on Friday in Saturday’s daily COVID-19 update. The positive rate was 8.89% of the total, according to the report. In total, 1,612,617 tests have been conducted.
To date, 1,371,401 persons have been tested in Florida. Of the total tested, 73,552 (about 5.4%) have tested positive. The state says there are 1,241 tests with pending results.
However, unlike hospitalization data that can give researchers a real-time visual on how the novel coronavirus is affecting the community, testing might be limited or take days to report results.
Health experts have previously told the Miami Herald that they were concerned the number of pending results listed by the state is an undercount. This is because Florida’s Health Department only announces the number of pending 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 pending test results 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, as the turnaround time varies by lab.