With plans to ease Florida back open for business, coronavirus deaths surpasses 900

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Stay-at-home order ends April 30; death toll has passed 900

ORLANDO, Fla.– As Gov. Ron DeSantis works on a plan to reopen Florida’s economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s death toll topped 900 on Wednesday during the second deadliest day for Florida, according to the latest numbers.

Florida is under a stay-at-home executive order until April 30, meaning non-essential businesses could reopen but the governor has not set a date for when that will happen yet. For small business owners and furloughed employees impacted by closures, that date can’t come quickly enough.

As of Wednesday night, there have been 28,576 positive cases of the novel coronavirus since March 1 in Florida, according to the DOH dashboard which is updated twice daily. Since the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in the Sunshine State, 927 people have died due to the virus, 60 new fatalities were reported alone on Wednesday, the second deadliest day for the state since April 2.

More than 4,450 people statewide with more severe cases of the virus have required hospitalization, according to the state database. Although exact figures haven’t been released of how many of those patients have since recovered, DeSantis said Tuesday that “slightly more than 2,000” people are currently hospitalized.

DeSantis declared Tuesday evening that Florida has flattened the curve — dropping the number of new cases and deaths– saying models predicting hundreds of coronavirus deaths a day in Florida were wrong. The most widely-sited models from the University of Washington indicate Florida may have surpassed the peak on April 2 when the state experienced the deadliest day yet with 77 fatalities. These models, similar to hurricane forecasting, are ever changing based on new data.

“Those predictions have been false. Our work is succeeding. We have flattened the curve,” DeSantis said.

Here’s what the numbers show: As state and local officials are declaring success through social distancing and expanding testing, state numbers do show a decrease in new cases since last week. By this time last week, Florida coronavirus cases were growing by more than 1,000 a day. For the past three days, new numbers have stayed under 800 new cases per day but on Tuesday the state confirmed 943 new cases.

One week ago on April 15, about 10.5% of Florida coronavirus tests were coming back positive. Now that number has dropped slightly to 9.6%. More than 290,000 people in Florida have been tested for COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning.

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said numbers have plateaued because as health officials administer around the same amount of tests daily, that number should stabilize.

At the current estimated peak, on April 2 and 3, Florida saw increases surpassing 1,300 new cases for both days.

It’s important to note new case numbers have fluctuated widely from day-to-day as new large-scale testing sites open or expand the number of tests administered.

In Central Florida, coastal counties in Brevard, Volusia and Flagler announced plans to lift some restrictions on beach access. Flagler County, the area with the lowest number of coronavirus cases in the region, will reopen beaches Wednesday for limited activities and hours.

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