ORLANDO, Fla. - The Florida Department of Health reported 5,557 coronavirus cases, making it the largest single-day increase since early September.
According to the state's daily update, the total number of cases in Florida is now 768,091.
The number of Florida resident deaths has reached 16,267, an increase of 57 since Wednesday's update. In addition, a total of 203 non-Floridians have died in the state.
With reported COVID-19 deaths of Florida residents topping 16,000 this week, the state Department of Health said Wednesday that information about fatalities needs a “more rigorous review.”
The rates of positive tests have been ticking upward in recent days, with close to 7% percent of test-takers positive in numbers reported Thursday, compared with figures closer to 5% in early October.
Hospitalizations for the disease, however, have remained roughly stable over the past month, with between 2,000 and 2,200 being treated in Florida hospitals, according to a state online census of hospital beds.
Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who serves as the department’s secretary, said the state took a deeper look at 95 COVID-19 deaths.
In 16 cases, it found more than a two-month time frame between when people tested positive for COVID-19 and the actual deaths. Also, another 11 deaths were more than 30 days old when they were reported to the state, according to the health department.
"During a pandemic, the public must be able to rely on accurate public health data to make informed decisions. To ensure the accuracy of COVID-19 related deaths, the department will be performing additional reviews of all deaths.” Rivkees said in a prepared statement. “Timely and accurate data remains a top priority of the Department of Health.”
U.S. health officials have also redefined what counts as close contact with someone with COVID-19 to include briefer but repeated encounters.
For months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said close contact meant spending a solid 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone who tested positive for coronavirus. On Wednesday, the CDC changed it to a total of 15 minutes or more — so shorter but repeated contacts that add up to 15 minutes over a 24-hour period now count.
The CDC advises anyone who has been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient to quarantine for two weeks.
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