Florida’s COVID rate now the lowest in the country


Florida recorded just 12,151 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, according to the latest report from the Florida Department of Health.

By federal counts — which are slightly different from Florida’s tabulations but still in the same ballpark — the Sunshine State’s most recent tally of newly-confirmed cases now gives Florida the lowest per capita rate of new cases in the country.

Florida’s 12,115 seven-day case tally in the federal report works out to a rate of 56 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, better than all the other 49 states.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, as reported in the COVID-19 Community Profile Report, covers a week that is one day behind the week that the Florida Department of Health says in its Friday announcements. However, the federal data, which covers the week through Wednesday, can compare states, as the CDC compiles similar data from all states.

With a rate of 64 new cases per 100,000 people, Hawaii posted the nation’s second-lowest per capita rate of new cases for the week ending Wednesday. Connecticut was next-best, with 66 new cases per 100,000, according to the CDC data.

Nonetheless, Florida’s summer surge, which ran from late July through early September, remains deadly, as Florida continues to tabulate COVID-19 deaths at a rate higher than other states. Many of those deaths are for reports that occurred weeks earlier but are only now clearing the bureaucracy. Others are for Florida’s sickest patients, who lingered in hospitals from Florida’s worst days until recently dying.

At its worst, the delta variant-driven summer surge was infecting more than 150,000 Floridians a week in early- and mid-August. More than 2,000 Floridians were added to the state’s death count each week in early- and mid-September. Those were the worst periods Florida has experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and during those times, Florida had the worst case and death rates in the nation.

Florida’s case numbers have plummeted more than 90% since then. Florida’s death toll has fallen too, but not nearly as much.

Florida added 867 COVID-19 deaths to its count in the week through Thursday, Oct. 28, according to the latest COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report released late Friday by the Florida Department of Health.

That’s down from the previous week’s total of 944 newly-recorded deaths. The new report documents the sixth consecutive week that Florida’s tally of additional COVID-19 deaths was lower than the last week. Yet the latest 8% decline in new cases was something of a leveling off, compared with 20% declines seen in many previous weeks.

Florida’s most recent weekly death toll was the second-highest in the country for the week.

Texas had 1,172 COVID-19 deaths newly recorded, according to the CDC’s report. California was third, with 702 newly-recorded deaths; Georgia, fourth, with 616; and Ohio, fifth, with 548.

As Florida’s rates drop, Gov. Ron DeSantis accelerated his plans to challenge President Joe Biden’s mandate that federal contractors with at least 100 employees require everyone to be vaccinated. Biden plans to go through the Occupation Safety and Health Administration to force employees to get a shot.

“We’re standing up. This isn’t the only thing we’re doing,” DeSantis said, mentioning the Special Session and saying it’s “very likely” the state will also plan to challenge the still pending OSHA rule.

DeSantis said he expects the case to be “successful,” but added that “as long as we save the jobs by the time that decision came down we’d be in good shape no matter what.”

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30-plus years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.


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