In a significant development, the Florida Health Department has announced the release of weekly COVID-19 data, including information on deaths, cases, and vaccinations. This marks the first time in 1 1/2 years that the department has provided such detailed data on a regular basis. Interestingly, the data also includes a breakdown of fatalities by county, shedding light on the impact of the virus at a more localized level.
This decision to release comprehensive data comes as a result of a lawsuit settlement between the Florida Center for Government Accountability and former Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith. The settlement mandates the agency to publish detailed COVID-19 data for a period of three years. It is a significant win for transparency and accountability in the state’s pandemic response.
The push for more data transparency gained momentum after Smith, who served on the Pandemics and Public Emergencies Committee, submitted a public records request for COVID-19 data in Orange County. This request was made just one month after the state transitioned to weekly data reporting in July 2021, followed by biweekly reports in March 2022.
The newly released data, available on the agency’s website, offers a comprehensive spreadsheet that can be further analyzed based on race, ethnicity, sex, and time intervals such as year, month, and week. However, it is worth noting that the website no longer includes total deaths and cases, which were previously featured in the agency’s reports.
According to the data provided, the total number of resident deaths in Florida stands at 91,893, with a recent increase of 303 deaths over the past two weeks (equivalent to 151.5 deaths per week). A breakdown by year reveals that there were 23,421 deaths in 2020, followed by 39,861 in 2021, 21,278 in 2022, and 7,413 in 2023. In the most recent week, 126 deaths were reported.
Delving into the county-specific data, Miami-Dade County emerges as the most heavily impacted, with 12,824 deaths, including 738 deaths this year alone. Broward County follows closely with 7,112 deaths, including 516 deaths in 2023. Palm Beach County ranks third with 6,428 deaths, including 545 deaths this year.
Turning our attention to the Treasure Coast, St. Lucie County has reported 1,505 deaths, with 121 deaths occurring in 2023. Martin County has recorded 842 deaths, including 96 deaths this year, while Indian River County has reported 830 deaths, with 82 deaths in 2023. Okeechobee County has experienced 214 total deaths, including 15 deaths this year.
Shifting gears to COVID-19 cases, the statewide total stands at 7,838,616, with 5,771 cases reported in the past week. This marks the lowest weekly case count since May 26, when 5,402 cases were recorded. In 2023, there have been 515,179 cases, following 1,317,419 cases in 2020, 2,934,038 cases in 2021, and 3,071,980 cases in 2022. It is important to note that the state figures often do not include the results of home tests.
Analyzing the county-specific case numbers, Miami-Dade County leads with 1,589,283 cases, followed by Broward County with 787,565 cases and Palm Beach County with 500,272 cases. St. Lucie County has reported 100,576 cases, Indian River County has recorded 45,046 cases, Martin County has reported 42,937 cases, and Okeechobee County has seen 13,031 cases.
While the current numbers appear alarming, it is crucial to note that the deaths and cases reported now are significantly lower than the peak figures. The highest weekly death record was 2,468 on September 17, 2021, while the highest daily death toll reached 434 on August 27, 2021, during the delta variant surge, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
When it comes to COVID-19 cases, the highest weekly count was 407,379 on January 19, 2022, with the highest daily count reaching 76,618 on January 8, 2021, during the omicron variant surge.
In terms of vaccination efforts, Florida has administered a total of 22,178,462 doses to date. This signifies a substantial stride in the state’s endeavor to combat the virus and protect its population.
It is important to highlight that the new website no longer includes information about positivity rates. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made changes to its data presentation on May 11. Weekly cases, testing, and transmission data are no longer listed, and instead, the CDC now displays provisional COVID-19 deaths reported to the National Center for Health Statistics. However, hospitalization data is still provided, with Florida currently reporting 759 hospitalized patients and a nationwide count of 13,036.
For the latest updates on COVID-19 in Florida, as well as nationwide data, readers are encouraged to visit wptv.com/coronavirus, where the most recent state and CDC data is available.