One-third of coronavirus tests came back positive for the novel virus in Miami-Dade County, Florida on Thursday, with a 14-day average of 24.87 per cent, according to CBS News. Even 20 per cent would be considered very high.
The U.S. has set record-high rates for newly confirmed cases of the virus six out of the past 10 days, with just shy of 60,000 reported nationwide on Thursday. Of those nearly 60,000, over 11,400 were in Florida, which has seen over 244,000 cases in total. In Miami-Dade County, one of the many cities which rushed to reopen shuttered businesses, government institutions, and other spaces in recent weeks, county stats show that 1,987 of 5,923 total individuals screened for the virus received positive results on Thursday.
Over 6,800 people are being treated in Florida hospitals as of a tally released Friday, according to CBS. In Miami-Dade some hospitals have reached intensive care unit capacity, with just 14 per cent of beds reported free countywide. Over 45 per cent of ICUs statewide were full or had less than 10 per cent capacity available. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters on Friday that those numbers do not take into account additional surge capacity in which hospitals convert patient rooms to ICUs; UF Health Jacksonville infection prevention director Chad Neilsen told CBS he was concerned that existing supplies of rapid test kits may run out at his hospital within two weeks because they are being used faster than companies can produce them.
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On Thursday, Yahoo News reported that internal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention documents listed Miami-Dade as one of the biggest outbreaks in the country and an “area of concern” — meaning caseloads are high and growing. Of the 10 counties listed in the documents as areas of concern, Miami-Dade ranks seventh in “incidence rate” but at 24,236 cases in the two weeks preceding July 9 it far outstrips the others in absolute terms, per Yahoo. It is also by far the largest, with a population of 2.7 million.
Another database run by Rebekah Jones, a former Florida state data analyst who says she was fired for refusing to manipulate case numbers to reflect less poorly on DeSantis, has shown somewhat higher numbers than the official state portal.
Harvard Global Health Institute director Dr. Ashish Jha told CBS News that the high rates of positive cases reflects that Florida “is not testing” and that statewide “one out of five tests that they’re doing is turning out positive. That means that there are a lot of cases out there that the testing infrastructure is missing.”
According to CBS, while Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez ordered the closure of all banquet halls and ballrooms, ordered masks mandatory at gyms, and further restricted restaurant hours of outdoor service (though it remains generous: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has pushed back against closures of indoor seating). However, the state has not halted some of its reopening plans, ordering all “brick-and-mortar” schools to fully reopen next month, and Disney World has continued with its alarming plan to welcome back visitors on July 11 despite concerns from staff that it could become a coronavirus hotbed.
Duval County, which contains Jacksonville, has continued to post near-record rates of new infections and stood at nearly 12,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The Republican National Convention, where Donald Trump and other prominent GOP leaders will speak, is scheduled to take place there in August.