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Florida adds 11,541 COVID-19 cases, percent positive stays above 9%

Another 125 people in the state have died after testing positive for the virus, the health department reported.

Florida has added another 11,541 new COVID-19 cases. That's according to the latest report from the Department of Health for Dec. 15.

Florida recently became the third state to report more than 1 million cases, behind California and Texas. A total of 1,155,335 people in Florida have tested positive since the pandemic began.

In November alone, Florida reported 200,753 cases of COVID-19 -- nearly 20 percent of the total number of cases in the state since March. 

On Wednesday, the state also reported another 122 Floridians and three non-residents had died after testing positive for COVID-19. That brings the total to 20,204 residents and 286 non-resident who have died since the pandemic began -- a total of 20,490 deaths in the state related to the virus.

Credit: Florida DOH/10 Tampa Bay

Those numbers do not necessarily mean those people died Monday, but rather the state learned of their deaths and added the number to the report that day. The state's line-by-line report, which you can read here, lists coronavirus deaths by the date the people tested positive for the virus, not the date they passed.  

As for testing, the health department reported 9.28 percent of 140,309 test results returned from labs were positive for coronavirus through Dec. 15. The median age of Floridians testing positive is 41.

As for hospitalizations, 5,150 people in Florida were hospitalized with coronavirus as their primary diagnosis as of Wednesday afternoon. Of those, 1,216 patients were in the Tampa Bay area.

Statewide, a total of 58,969 people in Florida have been hospitalized with the virus at some point during the pandemic.

Here's a breakdown of new coronavirus cases reported to the state in December:

  • December 1: 9,994
  • December 2: 10,870
  • December 3: 10,177 
  • December 4: 10,431
  • December 5: 8,436
  • December 6: 7,711
  • December 7: 7,985
  • December 8: 9,592
  • December 9: 11,335
  • December 10: 11,699
  • December 11: 10,577
  • December 12: 8,958
  • December 13: 8,452
  • December 14: 9,411
  • December 15: 11,541
Credit: Florida DOH/10 Tampa Bay

Understanding the numbers

Since mid-July, daily reported COVID-19 cases in Florida remained under 10,000. And, between Sept. 1 and Oct. 16, daily reported cases stayed below 4,000.

That changed on Nov. 15, when the state reported 10,105 new cases for the day prior.

The highest single-day case number Florida has reported so far is 15,300 for July 11. The report released on Nov. 27 of 17,345 newly-reported cases is higher, but that reported combined updates for Nov. 25 and Nov. 26.

The lowest single-day case number the state has reported since early June is 738 confirmed on Sept. 28.

On Oct. 30, Florida became the third state to cross the 800,000 reported COVID-19 cases mark. Then on Dec. 1, Florida became the third state to surpass 1 million confirmed cases. As of Dec. 14, Texas and California have reported more than 1.4 and 1.5 million cases, respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, the United States has more than 16 million coronavirus cases as of Dec. 13, the highest recorded number in the world.

The state's report released on Aug. 11 of 277 newly confirmed deaths was the highest seen from the state in a single day's report.

The state added a section to its daily report (on page 5) that shows deaths by date of death. This data has been reported daily on Florida's COVID-19 dashboard. The graph for deaths by date of death is subject to change, though, because the information reported to the state can be delayed up to two weeks. So, for consistency, our charts have stuck to new deaths added by the date they were added. For transparency, you can always reference the state's data here.

The positivity rate is crucial for reopening. The World Health Organization has repeatedly said it must remain at 5 percent or lower for a 14-day span for the agency to recommend reopening. 

However, it can be somewhat misleading: The number of people tested statewide varies each day, and recently the percent positive has ranged from above 6 percent to nearly 10 percent. 

Health officials say they would like to see a high -- but steady -- number of people tested every day and a suppressed percent positivity figure.  

Until Aug. 21, Florida had not seen a positivity rate at 5 percent since the beginning of June. In July, the state reported positivity rates at double and even triple that recommended percentage.

The reports for Aug. 1 and 2, respectively, showed positivity rates below 10 percent for the first time since June 24. The positivity rate reported for Oct. 3 (3.74 percent) is the lowest Florida has seen since early June.

In November, the percent positive rate reported daily didn't drop below 6 percent.

Florida has been in "Phase 3" of reopening since Sept. 25, when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an order guaranteeing restaurants the right to operate and lifting state-level capacity restrictions on them.

Credit: Florida DOH/10 Tampa Bay

Hospitalizations and ICU bed availability

New cases have dropped significantly in recent months, but what about hospitalizations?

Tracking hospitalizations got easier on July 10 when the Agency for Health Care Administration began publishing a spreadsheet with the number of people currently checked-in for coronavirus-related complications in Florida. The data only includes people whose "primary diagnosis" was COVID-19.

As of Dec. 16, 5,150 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as their primary diagnosis statewide, and 1,216 of them were in the Tampa Bay area. Those numbers are frequently updated, and you can click here for the most recent data, which is also broken down by county.

Since the pandemic began, the state confirms a total of 58,969 residents were hospitalized at some point during their illness.

The Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) also updates total hospital bed and ICU availability by county.

Click here for a breakdown of adult and pediatric ICU bed availability by county. You can also check ICU availability by the hospital.

Hospitalizations around Tampa Bay and total staffed hospital bed capacity status: 

**Data as of 12 p.m. Dec. 16, 2020.

Citrus:

  • 47 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 64 of 306 total staffed hospital beds are available

DeSoto:

  • 5 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 22 of 58 total staffed hospital beds are available 

Hardee:

  • 0 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 0 of 26 total staffed hospital beds are available

Hernando:

  • 71 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 184 of 742 total staffed hospital beds are available

Highlands:

  • 66 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 34 of 264 total staffed hospital beds are available

Hillsborough:

  • 307 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 598 of 4,125 total staffed hospital beds are available

Manatee:

  • 56 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 51 of 786 total staffed hospital beds are available

Pasco:

  • 145 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 240 of 1,422 total staffed hospital beds are available

Pinellas: 

  • 241 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 872 of 3,300 total staffed hospital beds are available

Polk: 

  • 152 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 268 of 1,732 total staffed hospital beds are available

Sarasota: 

  • 126 COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • 111 of 1,291 total staffed hospital beds are available