Deaths in coronavirus in Florida reach another grim record as state grips with testing of limitations

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) arrive with a patient while a funeral car begins to leave at North Shore Medical Center where coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are being treated, in Miami, Florida, July 14, 2020.

Maria Alejandra Cardona | Reuters

Florida reported 276 new deaths caused by the coronavirus on Tuesday, marking the highest number of deaths reported in a single day by the state since the pandemic began.

That brings the total number of Covid-19 deaths in Florida to 8,553, according to the state Department of Health. Florida also reported 5,886 new cases of the virus, bringing the cumulative total to 542,792 confirmed cases across the state since the outbreak began.

The Florida Department of Health did not comment directly on this article.

The state previously reported a 31-day high of 257 Covid-19 deaths on July 31, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The seven-day average of new Covid-19 deaths in Florida hit a high of 185 average daily deaths per day on August 5, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data.

The percentage of tests that returned positive on Monday also increased to 10.3%, up from about 8.6% on Sunday. That statistic is a close-up data point that can indicate if the outbreak is expanding and if the state is doing enough testing.

Florida is one of the hardest hit states in the country by the coronavirus, but in recent days new cases have appeared daily. However, epidemiologists warn that it is too soon to establish any kind of strong trend and say that testing has fallen even faster.

The seven-day average of daily new cases has dropped by 38% compared to two weeks ago, according to CNBC’s analysis of data compiled by Hopkins, but tests have also declined. The state ran roughly 54,000 tests a day two weeks ago, but that has dropped by 46% since August 10 to just over 37,000, based on data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer project set up by journalists at Atlantic Ocean magazine.

“I’m always cautious. It looks like we may be on a downward trend,” Cindy Prince, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida, told CNBC on Tuesday, noting the state’s positivity rate, as a percentage of ‘ the positive Covid-19 tests, has fallen from its recent peak at 12.3%, according to the state Department of Health. She added that the state would need to do more testing to better understand the outbreak.

“You want to reach that point, where you have enough testing going on, that you identify the majority of people who are positive, because that allows the effort of disease control,” he said. se. “Then not only will your percentage positivity be lower, but your cases will also start to decrease and I think this is the place we want to be.”

She added that Hurricane Isaias, which hit Florida and other states on the east coast earlier this month, may have disrupted some of Covid-19’s response. For example, she said, tests were down due to the storm, which it seems likely to make if cases also decreased.

Deaths, which are left behind daily in new cases when people become infected, become ill and eventually die, are seen as a more stable indicator of an outbreak because they are less dependent on available test capacity.