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Florida Once Again Becomes the Country’s COVID-19 Epicenter

July 28, 2021 by Reece Nations
Jupiter Island, Florida. (Photo by Dan McCue)

Hospitalizations in some regions of Florida are increasing at their fastest rate since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as it records more new cases than any other state.

Florida recorded 73,199 cases over the course of last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty-five percent of U.S. counties are experiencing high levels of community transmission and COVID-19 cases are rising in almost 90% of U.S. jurisdictions.

The state’s weekly average positivity rate is the highest it’s been all year at 16.4%, nearing its highest all-time average recorded in July 2020 at 17.65%, according to CDC data. Now, Florida accounts for one in five new infections nationwide.

Florida changed the frequency of its virus reporting in early June, shifting from daily to weekly updates in a move justified by state health officials at the time when cases were decreasing and new vaccinations were increasing. The number of new cases logged in the state’s last three weekly reports quickly rose from around 23,000 to 45,000 and then over 73,000 on Friday, marking a daily average of more than 10,000 new cases.

In comparison, the states of California, Texas, New York and Illinois combined recorded 73,116 new infections in the week leading up to last Thursday, according to CDC data. Further, the states of California, Texas, New York and Illinois and Pennsylvania together recorded fewer COVID-19 fatalities in the same span of time than Florida did at a margin of 362 deaths to 387, respectively.

The Sunshine State alone has topped all others in new cases and fatalities as the delta variant began its rampant spread in the weeks following Independence Day, according to the New York Times COVID-19 dashboard. Florida’s weekly update took several hours longer than normal to be published and contained a discrepancy in its statewide death toll from the week before.

Although the most recent state report only noted an additional 78 deaths, the difference between the report’s total death toll of 38,670 and the 38,388 from the prior week stands at 282. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reportedly has no plans to declare a state of emergency.

In addition to the delta variant of the virus, another new variant is also contributing to the spike in Florida’s cases. The gamma variant, also known as the Brazilian variant, comprised 26% of COVID-19 patients whose results were being sequenced at the University of Miami’s pathology lab.

The lab also cites 49% of new positive cases are due to the delta variant, while 10% were from the B.1.621 variant, commonly referred to as the Colombian variant. In total, the U.S. has experienced 34,533,179 total reported cases and 610,952 deaths from COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, more than any other country in the world. 

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