BY MARC FREEMAN
FORT LAUDERDALE — More than 10,000 people have now died from COVID-19 in Florida, according to data released on Aug. 19.
The updated death toll comes after the state Department of Health reported 174 more resident deaths that happened in recent weeks but were confirmed on Aug. 19, following a surge of coronavirus cases this summer.
Florida, which has tallied over 5,000 deaths just since July 18, became the fifth U.S. state to reach the grim milestone of at least 10,000 deaths. It’s New York, New Jersey, California, Texas and now Florida.
The state reported a daily average of 167 deaths from the disease over seven days, the statistics show. The total to date as of Wednesday was 10,067 victims, including 135 nonresidents.
Still, the state has more hopeful signs in its battle with the virus: the daily testing positivity rate has remained under 10%, and it just dropped to 7.1%, its lowest level since it was 7.3% on June 15. The state says it processed 67,822 test results on Tuesday.
Positivity — the percentage of people testing positive for the first time out of those tested — is a figure that health experts say shows the prevalence of the disease in the population.
The state posted 4,115 new cases on Wednesday, up from Tuesday’s 3,838 new cases and Monday’s 2,678 cases. For most of July, Florida posted over 10,000 cases per day. The cases reported on a single day follow a lag between the collection of swabs over several days and the confirmation of positive results.
Other encouraging trends this month are a decline in the number of people hospitalized and seeking care in emergency rooms for COVID-19-like symptoms.
For the week of July 5, there were 16,036 visits to hospital ERs for COVID-like illness. That dropped to 4,835 visits for the week of Aug. 9, the latest data available.