FL’s COVID death toll jumps to more than 6,000; infections nearing 450,000

Novel coronavirus SARS CoV2, which causes COVID-19. Microphotography by National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Deaths from COVID-19 for the first time have reached the 6,000 mark, following an increase of 186 new deaths of Florida residents, according to data published Tuesday by the state Department of Health.

The exact death toll is now at 6,117. Of the total, 2,760 are from residents and staff at long-term care facilities.

The deaths range from a 9-year-old girl in Putnam County in north Florida to a 108-year-old woman in Miami-Dade, according to data that the Phoenix analyzes from the health department.

Miami-Dade has the largest number of deaths, 1,425, following by Palm Beach, 779 and Broward, 607. Those three counties have been at the epicenter of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 infections are at 441,977, according to the state data, up from 9,230 the day before. Earlier last week, the increases in some cases were rising by more than 12,000, but there’s been some tapering off in recent days.

Even so, if new infections of about 9,000 continue to rise daily, Florida will likely reach the 500,000 mark in COVID-19 infections in less than a week.

The numbers have been critical as millions of students go back to school in August, and some families, students and educators fear that brick-and-mortar schools may not be safe.

The Florida Education Association recently filed a lawsuit over the matter, and the United Faculty of Florida has requested Gov. Ron DeSantis to direct all higher education institutions to use online learning only, rather than in-person instruction on college campuses.

The COVID-19 deaths now span across 65 of Florida’s 67 counties. Only Gulf and Lafayette counties, in north Florida, have reported no COVID-19 deaths. All other counties have reported at least one death, according to data analyzed by the Phoenix.

Overall, 82.6 percent of deaths were residents ages 65 and over. The largest numbers of deaths are in the age categories of 70 to 79 and 80 to 89.

The death rate in Florida is still lower than about two dozen states, with the highest rates in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to a New York Times analysis. That analysis is based on the number of deaths per 100,000, with Florida ranking 23rd of the 50 states.

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.