FL has exceeded 10,000 COVID-19 infections in less than five weeks time

Color-enhanced image of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (in blue), which causes the dangerous respiratory disease COVID-19. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-Rocky Mountain Lab

The Florida Department of Health Department is reporting 10,268 COVID-19 infections in 60 counties as of Friday evening, a rapid rise that led to myriad restrictions and a statewide lockdown.

In less than five weeks — starting with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ March 1 announcement of two coronavirus cases — lives have changed measurably, with residents facing rampant job losses and a flood of unemployment claims yet to be processed.

It’s likely that the state will soon show infections in all 67 counties in Florida, though seven seven small rural counties are hanging on with zero infections, the heath department data show.

Those counties are Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty and Taylor, part of a swath in North Florida including counties hugging the Gulf of Mexico and the Georgia border.

(The data on infections includes an “unknown” category, not a county, that has ten cases.)

It was Sunday March 1, when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced two coronavirus cases in Florida, at a time when residents weren’t even clear whether those were preliminary cases or confirmed ones.

In less than five weeks, the numbers reached the 10,000 mark, showing the strength and speed of the virus as well as a boost in testing that had ramped up to get results.

The COVID-19 infections are caused by the new coronavirus, which as expanded across the globe.

The data Friday evening also shows a total of 170 deaths, up from 163 Friday morning. The seven new deaths are in Orange, Palm Beach, Polk and Sumter counties.

The center of the coronavirus pandemic has been the big South Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

As of Friday evening, Miami-Dade has 3,364 infections, Broward, 1,598 and Palm Beach, 858.

Orange has 602 infections and Hillsborough, 463.

While the focus has been on South Florida, restrictions to curtail COVID-19 are now statewide, with DeSantis this week ordering all Floridians to stay in their homes, with some exceptions.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.