More than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases related to FL schools; 12,660 cases in all since early September

Sarasota District Schools, Transportation. Photo from Facebook page, Sarasota District Schools, Transportation.

COVID-19 infections at Florida schools continue to rise, with more than 2,000 new cases between Oct. 18 and Oct. 24, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The cases encompass K-12 schools and colleges and universities, both public and private, as well as students, teachers, staff and other unknown cases.

The state data reported 2,226 new COVID-19 cases from Oct. 18 to Oct. 24, with total cases now at 12,660 infections since Sept. 6.

Of the 2,226 new cases, 690 were from Florida colleges and universities and include students, teachers, staff, and other cases.

The remaining 1,536 cases were from Florida public and private K-12 schools.  Of that number, 1,091 students tested positive, along with 136 teachers, 89 staff, and 220 other cases.

A previous report spanning Oct. 10 through Oct. 17 showed 2,102 new cases related to public schools, private schools, colleges and universities. Prior to the week of Oct. 10, new cases were increasing by about 1,500 a week.

If current trends continue into next week’s update, total cases related to Florida schools since September 6 will be close to 15,000 — if not higher.

Florida K-12 public and private schools with the highest number of total cases between Oct. 18 and Oct. 24 are: Miami-Dade (153), Broward (92), Duval (83), Hillsborough (79), Orange (78) and Okaloosa (76).

The state data showed eight school districts with no new cases during that week: Gadsen, Gilchrist, Glades, Gulf, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson and Liberty counties.

Some of those North Florida counties have had high infection rates.

The data is a part of the ongoing discussion on whether Florida schools are safe enough to have in-person classes during the pandemic. The questions will likely continue as Florida parents, teachers, and students approach Halloween and the other fall and winter holidays.

The data for schools is part of the broad picture of COVID-19 cases since March, when the health department began counting infections and deaths.

As of Wednesday, the health department reported 790,426 COVID-19 infections. That figure is likely to rise and hit the 800,000 mark by or before Election Day on Nov. 3.

The Department of Health describes “unknown” cases as meaning that “the information was unavailable at the time the report was generated,” based on a new Frequently Asked Questions link on the agency’s website. Previously, that data was offered without context.