No new COVID-19 deaths were reported for Polk County over four days coinciding with the Memorial Day weekend. Then Tuesday, one death was reported. Today there were four more. All five are tied to long-term-care facilities.

So far, 39 of Polk’s 54 coronavirus deaths — 72.22% — stem from elder-care facilities.

The five were three women — ages 68, 90 and 95 — and two men — ages 59 and 98.

If there’s any bright spot in today’s reports from the Florida Department of Health, it’s that the overall proportion of coronavirus tests that have come back positive is down to 4.7%. It was 7.3% as recently as May 7.

The “weekly percentage of positive cases” for Polk is 2.22% and decreasing, according to a new series of charts being updated daily on the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce home page.

The charts are provided by “The Florida Scorecard: Metrics to Help Secure Florida’s Future,” a product of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The Florida Department of Health is using several different methods to calculate positivity and it’s unclear which one this represents, so we’ve reached out to the chamber for clarification.

Here are a couple of screen shots from the Lakeland chamber home page showing the new graphics as well as a breakout on the daily average of new cases.


Here are a few notable developments since our last daily update a week ago. (As we noted then on Facebook, we have continued updating the charts on our COVID-19 page but took a few days to slow the pace of our seven-day-a-week reporting schedule.)

  • Testing continues at a stronger pace. The Florida Department of Health has set a goal to have its partners test an average of 500 people a day in Polk County. “The goal is to test at least 2% of the population (each month) and for the percent positive to be less than 10%,” spokeswoman Nicole Riley said.
  • A one-day spike in reported tests in Polk — around 1,900 on May 19 — “was partially due to an upload of negative results being reported at one time,” Riley said.
  • The most recent weekly update on deaths from long-term-care facilities showed there have been 21 deaths associated with Highlands Lake Center on Lakeland Highlands Road; it was the fifth highest number in Florida. Numbers of deaths tied to other Lakeland elder-care facilities: Consultate Health Care of Lakeland on North Socrum Loop Road, 5, and Lakeland Hills Center on East Bella Vista Street, 2.  
  • Oakbridge Health Care Center in Lakeland is one of five facilities in Florida chosen to house only “medically stable” COVID-19 patients and provide skilled nursing care, The Ledger reported. There are currently 22 patients there, the Florida Department of Health said today.
  • Grace Manor at Lake Morton on Lime Street, an assisted-living facility, was added to the list of long-term-care facilities with positive COVID-19 cases last week. Today’s report lists seven cases: three residents, three residents who have transferred away and one staff member.

Latest numbers

This morning’s COVID-19 updates from the Florida Department of Health compared with our last full report May 20:

  • Polk confirmed cases: 907, an increase of 121
  • Lakeland confirmed cases: 354, an increase of 46
  • Polk deaths: 54, an increase of 9
  • Polk hospitalizations: 267, an increase of 25

Hospitalizations hit a plateau toward the end of April with just five new cases between April 22 and 28, but the rate of new patients has quickened since then, with 124 new admissions since the end of April.

The numbers of confirmed cases and hospitalizations are cumulative and do not reflect how many people have recovered or have been released from the hospital.

Testing in Polk

  • Total tested: 19,203, an increase of 3,292 since May 20.
  • Positive: 907
  • Negative: 18,261
  • Inconclusive: 5
  • Await results: 6
  • Percent positive: 4.7%

The numbers of people tested is 2.65% of Polk County’s estimated population of 724,777 people.

Long-term care facilities

  • Cases involving Polk facilities: 185
  • Deaths involving Polk facilities: 39, an increase of 9 since May 20
  • Number of Polk facilities with reported cases: 11. Here’s a link, but note that this link lasts only until the next day’s report is issued.

In Lakeland, the bulk of cases are from Highlands Lake Center, which today reported positive cases for 91 people: 66 residents who were transferred away and 25 staff.

There’s been a change to the graphic below. The pie chart showing the proportion of confirmed cases at elder-care facilities has been removed because it showed an artificially low number. The number the state reports for elder-care cases fluctuates up and down daily, while the number for all cases is cumulative and is not adjusted downward as conditions change.

More Polk County data

The Florida Department of Health is now releasing county-by-county charts. Here are today’s for Polk:

Click the image to view a larger version
Click the image to view a larger version

ZIP Codes

Cases in Lakeland ZIP codes and changes since May 20:

33801: 31, an increase of 4
33803: 31, an increase of 3
33805: 64, an increase of 12
33809: 38, an increase of 8
33810: 42, an increase of 7
33811: 7, an increase of 2
33812: 13, an increase of 2
33813: 105, a increase of 7
33815: 14, an increase of 1

View an interactive ZIP code map here. To find local ZIP code data, click on the “Cases by Zip Code” tab below the map and then scroll to Polk and click. Learn how ZIP code data is reported.

Cases in Polk cities

  • Lakeland, 354
  • Winter Haven, 172
  • Davenport, 82
  • Lake Wales, 51
  • Kissimmee, 50*
  • Bartow, 46
  • Auburndale, 29
  • Mulberry, 22
  • Haines City, 20
  • Frostproof, 12
  • Fort Meade, 11
  • Poinciana, 6
  • Lake Alfred, 5
  • Eagle Lake, 4
  • Polk City, 4
  • Dundee, 3
  • Wahneta, 2
  • Kathleen, 2
  • Babson Park, 2
  • Bradley, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Cypress Gardens, 1
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 1
  • Lake Hamilton, 1
  • Waverly, 1
  • Lakeshore (formerly Fedhaven), 1
  • Clermont, 1*
  • No city named, 11

* While Kissimmee is in Osceola County, the Health Department classifies a portion of east Polk as Kissimmee. It maintains a separate number for the Osceola portion of Kissimmee. A similar situation exists for Clermont, which is in Lake County.

Download the full Florida report released Wednesday.

Tracking the cases

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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