FL surpasses 350,000 mark for COVID-19 infections; deaths near 5,000

New 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

Florida has surpassed 350,000 COVID-19 infections, with the latest report from the Florida Department of Health showing 12,478 new positive and 87 Florida resident deaths.

The new numbers posted Sunday by the state health department reflect results received on Saturday. Some 11.85 percent of the 115,100 new results tested positive.

That makes it 350,047 Florida infections in total and 4,982 deaths of Florida residents. Of the total deaths, 2,370 are from staffers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Coronavirus tracking by the New York Times shows Florida 3rd among the 50 states for the number of COVID-19 infections. Florida now ranks 7th in the NYT analysis of infections per 100,000 people.

As to the number of deaths, Florida ranks 8th of the 50 states. But Florida ranks 24th of the 50 states based on deaths per 100,000 people, according to New York Times.

That puts Florida’s death toll well behind states such as New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has been attempting to calm Floridians’ fears about the extent of the outbreak, arguing that many of the positive tests are among younger people who tend not to suffer the more dangerous symptoms or deaths.

He said on Saturday: “I think fear is our enemy here. And I think that if we approach this with a steady resolve, I think we’re going handle it much, much better.”

Florida’s epicenter — Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — continues to show the largest number of COVID-19 infections.

Miami-Dade is at 84,238; Broward, at 39,281, and Palm Beach at 25,785, according to the state health department data.

Counties surpassing 10,000 infections are: Hillsborough (23,706), Orange (23,259), Duval (16,546), Pinellas (13,482) and Lee (12,711).

In Duval County, Jacksonville is preparing for President Donald Trump’s GOP’s nomination at the Republican National Convention in late August, though some events will be shifted outdoors.

Overall, the surge in infections comes as hundreds of thousands of Florida children and teens are scheduled to go back to school at or around Aug. 10, raising concerns from families and educators.

The Florida Education Association, a statewide teacher’s union, posted a media advisory Sunday saying it will have a news conference on Monday “to discuss litigation regarding the state emergency order to reopen physical public schools to students five days a week in August.” The national education unions will be joining in.

Many districts had planned for alternative instruction options, including in-person classroom learning as well as online learning, and were concerned that some families wouldn’t want students to go back into brick-and-mortar schools with COVID-19 cases surging.