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COVID-19 keeps spreading with 8,376 new cases. Still the governor extended his ban on cracking down

Florida reported 8,376 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with 99 new deaths — a day after the governor extended his order blocking local officials from cracking down.

The deaths were the most since Oct. 21. They were announced as the state heads into the holiday weekend when many families will gather and the virus could spread.

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In five of the last seven days, the state has reported more than 8,000 new cases — an upward trend that hasn’t happened since early July.

Despite the concerns, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday extended an executive order banning local governments from taking action to slow the spread of the virus.

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DeSantis on Sept. 25 stopped city and county governments from enforcing mask laws or limits on restaurant capacity.

Under the order, local governments cannot collect fines or impose restrictions on businesses without first justifying economic and health reasons.

The curtailing of restrictions is particularly detrimental to South Florida officials, who have called on the governor to relent. The number of COVID-19 cases reported by Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties account for 40% of the total number of cases the state has reported since the pandemic began in March.

Since then, 961,676 Florida residents and non-residents have been infected. The total death toll, including non-residents, stands at 18,482.

South Florida

Broward County: 802 additional cases and eight more deaths. Broward has a known total of 103,440 cases and 1,667 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Palm Beach County: 449 additional cases and seven more deaths. The county now has 63,146 confirmed cases and 1,694 deaths.

Miami-Dade County: 2,120 additional cases and three new deaths. The county now has 220,414 confirmed cases and 3,814 deaths.

Testing and positivity rates

Public health experts say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. Florida exceeds 5% by both of its measures of assessing the rate for testing of residents.

In the first calculation, the state reported a daily positivity rate of 7.10%, down from 7.47% the day before. This method of calculating positivity counts new infections only, but also counts repeat negative tests, which skews the figure downward.

According to the state, Wednesday’s new case numbers reflect the results of 128,226 COVID-19 tests of Florida residents received from labs in the past day, up from 119,980 results reported Tuesday.

In the second calculation, which includes retests of people who were previously diagnosed, the statewide daily positivity rate is 8.94% based on the latest results for 128,226 residents. That’s down from 9.20% the previous day.

Broward County: Test results for 12,364 residents were reported Wednesday, leading to a daily positivity rate of 6.03%. That’s down from 6.86% the previous day.

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Palm Beach County: Test results for 5,787 residents were reported on Wednesday, leading to a daily positivity rate of 7.10%, up from 6.06% the previous day.

Miami-Dade County: Test results for 25,957 residents were reported Wednesday, leading to a daily positivity rate of 7.44%, down from 7.74% the previous day.

Deaths

Statewide: The state’s pandemic data report shows a total of 18,254 Floridians have died from COVID-19. In addition, 228 non-residents have died, bringing the total number of deaths to 18,482.

Florida has the fourth-highest total of COVID-19 deaths among the states, behind New York, Texas and California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Florida’s death rate since the pandemic began ranks 14th in the nation, tied with South Carolina, at 85 deaths per 100,000 people, the CDC reports. That’s higher than the national rate of 79 deaths per 100,000.

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In South Florida, Broward County reported 396, up by nine; Palm Beach County had 259, down by 11; and Miami-Dade had the most in the state with 548, an increase of 13.

Hospitalizations hit a peak in late July of about 9,500 patients statewide.

Since the pandemic began, 54,133 residents have been hospitalized for the disease, according to the state health department.

National and global view

U.S.: More than 12.7 million people in the United States have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 261,480 have died as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard.

World: More than 60.1 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1.41 million people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins says. The U.S. has had the most COVID-19 cases and deaths of any country. The U.S. has 4.3% of the world’s population, but 20.83% of the world’s cases and 18.5% of the world’s deaths.

Andrew Boryga can be reached at 954-356-4533 or aboryga@sunsentinel.com. Follow on Twitter @borywrites.

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