COVID-19 infections exceed 750,000; FL’s death toll for residents closing in on 16,000

Man in hospital bed because of coronavirus infection; health-care worker is giving medicine to the patient. Credit: Getty Images.

The Florida Department of Health reported Saturday that COVID-19 infections have reached 752,481 and the death toll for residents is at 15,917.

Those numbers were posted on Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, but as about 2 p.m. Saturday, more lengthy and detailed COVID updates published daily have not yet been released by the agency. (UPDATE: That data was published later that afternoon.)

There’s been some concern that the state will no longer publish daily reports on COVID infections and deaths, and various other data points that help Floridians understand what’s going on during the pandemic.

On Friday, two Democratic state senators — Janet Cruz of Tampa and Lori Berman of Delray Beach issued a joint statement:

“Even as new daily coronavirus cases are creeping up again, the DeSantis administration has offered up a trial balloon to move Florida from daily COVID reporting to weekly reporting. They stated that staffing costs are constraining, but there is perhaps no greater use of public funds…

Make no mistake, this political stunt would be an affront to the public’s health and right to understand case trends…Across Florida, hospitalizations are increasing, ICU bed capacity is waning, and emergency room patients with COVID-like symptoms are increasing. We would like to recommend to the Governor that he throw out President Trump’s tired playbook of obfuscation and stay the course on daily transparent reporting.”

The Florida Phoenix reported Friday that “Florida’s official COVID-19 ‘positivity rate’ is at odds with rates reported by the renowned tracker run by Johns Hopkins University. The official state rate is around 5 percent; Johns Hopkins says it’s closer to 12. As is common with statistics, data can be analyzed and interpreted in various, even contradictory, ways.”

Saturday’s data show that the number of COVID-19 infections increased by 4,044 cases compared to the day before. (Friday’s number was 748,437.) Nationwide, Florida has the third highest number of infections, following California and Texas, both of which have more than 800,000 cases, according to a New York Times analysis.
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.