Florida reports over 4,500 coronavirus cases, 44 more deaths

Members of the Wisconsin National Guard test residents for COVID-19 at a temporary test facility set up in the parking lot of the UMOS corporate headquarters on Oct. 9, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On Saturday, the Florida Department of Health reported 4,544 coronavirus cases, bringing the statewide total to 875,096 people infected. 

The death toll increased by 44 people. The total is now at 17,489 Florida residents who have died. With 215 non-resident deaths, the combined toll is 17,704.

This comes as Central Florida officials warn residents to not let their guard down around the holidays, which are most likely to be filled with gatherings that could potentially spread the coronavirus. 

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“I said at the beginning of the week, we would likely surpass the 50,000 positive cases within Orange County this week, and we have,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings at a news conference.

Demings said especially with the holidays coming up, it was important to stay safe and get tested.

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“So as a suggestion to those who will be gathering with family members,” he said, “if you're gonna have family live in the area, or going to have family coming from outside the area, encourage your family members to get tested.”

On Friday, President Donald Trump delivered an update on Operation Warp Speed, the White House effort to get a COVID-19 vaccine to market. 

Trump called U.S. work on the vaccine the “single greatest mobilization in U.S. history” in pioneering and developing vaccines and therapies in record time — five times faster than the 8 to 12 years it normally takes. 

The address came at a time when the virus is surging again across the U.S., sending deaths, hospitalization and new infection figures soaring. COVID-19 is blamed for more than 240,000 deaths and over 10.4 million confirmed cases in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

On Monday, Pfizer Inc. said its COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective, based on early and incomplete test results. The company said it did not purposely withhold trial results, as Trump has suggested.

Trump said that “millions of doses” of the vaccine are ready to be distributed across the country and that by April the vaccine will be available to the general population “with the exception of places like New York state.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.