A mystery: 16,000 previously uncounted COVID cases added to Florida's total
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that it had added about 16,000 previously uncounted COVID-19 cases over the past four months to its Florida total.
At the same time, the state’s new case count increased slightly this week while hospitalizations have sunk to pre-winter surge levels.
The CDC added 15,993 COVID cases to its Florida sum that had not been previously reported between November and March, the federal agency reported Thursday.
Representatives for the CDC and the Florida Department of Health did not explain Friday why those infections have gone uncounted for months.
The federal health agency said March 9 that “technical difficulties” prevented it from reporting new cases for Florida that week.
Patient counts dip, cases up slightly
1,091 hospital patients Friday, the fewest since Nov. 20, and far lower than almost 3,000 during the first week of January. (Source: U.S. Health and Human Services Department).
8,969 new infections this week, slightly higher than the 7,397 recorded last week, and much lower than the nearly 35,000 logged during the week ending Jan. 19. (Source: CDC).
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Latest sewage data: Low and flat
Wastewater, which reveals coronavirus trends sooner than official case counts, shows viral levels remain far lower than their winter peaks, in spite of recent bumps.
Sewage readings from Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Orange, Alachua, Hillsborough, Leon, Pinellas and Seminole counties continue to show viral loads well below their January peaks.
Coronavirus particle counts in Orange County, which temporarily increased in early March, have lowered again, according to March 15 sewage tests conducted by Boston-based laboratory Biobot Analytics. Orlando is the county seat.
Wastewater tests by Biobot and the national WastewaterSCAN continue to show viral counts dwindling in sewage in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Alachua, Leon, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Seminole counties.
Should you mask up indoors?
The CDC no longer recommends indoor masking anywhere in Florida to prevent strain on local hospitals as COVID-positive patient tallies and case counts continue declining.
CDC logs more than 400 new deaths
403 more deaths recorded this week, the most since the week ending Feb. 2, and much higher than the sub-300 weekly numbers logged between that week and last week. But what remains unknown is how many of those newly reported deaths come from the uncounted cases between November and this month.
Florida vaccination rates still among nation's worst
30% — Floridians 65 and older who have gotten the latest booster*
41.9% — Seniors boosted nationwide**
11.2% — Floridians up to date on shots
16.4% — Americans up to date
87,141 Floridians killed, excluding more than 3,000 that state auditors discovered in 2020, which the state Health Department did not count.
More than 7.5 million infected in Florida, which is more than 1 in 3 residents.
*Those 65 and older comprise the vast majority of COVID deaths.
**Only seniors in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee have less protection than those in Florida.
Chris Persaud is The Palm Beach Post's data reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click @ChrisMPersaud and follow him on Twitter.