3 counties became the COVID-19 epicenter in FL; now they represent nearly 900,000 infections

Novel coronavirus SARS CoV2, which causes COVID-19. Mutations of the virus have been spreading across the country. Microphotography by National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Florida is seeing a slowdown of COVID-19 infections, millions of residents are getting vaccinations and people are shedding masks — but the breadth of the pandemic remains startling.

With the month of May coming to an end, the Florida Department of Health on Friday reported 2,320,818 COVID infections and 36,774 deaths of residents.

The three counties that became the epicenter of the pandemic in Florida — Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — are now closing in on 900,000 infections.

Miami-Dade has hit the half-million mark, with 500,323 cases. Broward is at 244,552, and Palm Beach, 148,277.

But Hillsborough (142,735 cases) and Orange (142,541) have come close to Palm Beach, the health department data show. And Duval County has hit the 100,000 mark, with 100,502 cases.

No other counties have reached the 100,000 mark, but Pinellas is at 81,289 cases, and Lee and Polk have more than 70,000 infections.

Many counties have much lower numbers.

In fact, 34 counties, many of them rural and in North Florida, have fewer than 10,000 COVID cases — half the counties in the state, according to the health department data.

To put all this in context, Florida ranks 3rd in the 50 states for the number of COVID-19 infections. But it ranks 19th among the states in the infection rate per 100,000 residents, 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.