Nearly one-third of Polk County’s tally of 1,634 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed during the 13 days since Florida initiated Phase 2 reopening on June 5. Today’s report from the Florida Department of Health added 68 more cases to Polk’s count, setting a new high for the second day in a row and five out of the last eight days.

Statewide, another 2,610 cases were added today in Florida’s second-highest day after Tuesday’s 2,783 total set a new high.

Daily reports since Phase 2 started June 5 have totaled 534 new cases in Polk, representing 32.7% of all confirmed cases of the disease. Most of those were cases that were contracted after Phase 1 reopening started May 18 and before Phase 2 went into effect since it generally takes a week or two between contracting the disease and getting test results.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday the state would not slow the pace of reopening businesses despite the increase in cases.

“We’re not shutting down. We’re going to go forward … We’re not rolling back,” DeSantis said. “You have to have society function.”

The governor attributes the increase in cases to a rise in the number of COVID-19 tests being administered around the state. Florida logged 25,462 tests new tests in today’s report, and the count for Polk County was 710, which is higher than the Department of Health’s goal of 500 new tests per day.

The rate of tests coming back positive has been rising. The statewide rate of positivity for Tuesday’s tests was 10.3%, compared with an average positive rate of 5.6% this year. Here’s a chart on test positivity from this morning’s state report:

The state Department of Health does not release a similar number of first-time positive cases for each county. But a new dashboard that mines the state’s data shows Polk County’s positivity rate at 8.7%, having risen daily since Saturday, when it was 7.6%.

The number of deaths reported statewide by the Florida Department of Health has been down in recent days, and today was the fourth straight day that no deaths were reported in Polk. This is the first time since Polk’s first COVID-19 death was reported on March 31 that we’ve gone four days with no new fatalities.

Eighteen of the new cases are in Lakeland, which has now exceeded 600 instances of the disease. It appears that many of the new cases reported in Lakeland in the last few days involve long-term-care facilities.

Highlands Lake Center on Lakeland Highlands Road reported 110 cases today, an increase of 20 since the last state report on Monday. Those include 81 residents who have been moved to hospitals and 29 staff members.

Lakeland Hills Center on Lakeland Hills Boulevard reported 68 cases today, an increase in 9 over Monday. Those involve 31 residents, 28 residents who have been transferred away and nine staff members. (Read more about the Lakeland Hills Center outbreak in The Ledger.)

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Polk continue rising but at a much slower rate than the growth in new cases; the increases have been in the single digits every day this month except one. One reason for that is that the highest number of cases have been among people between the ages of 25 and 64, who are less likely to need hospitalization than older patients. The top center chart in the graphic below shows the age distribution for cases in Polk County.

Polk County has experienced “a concerning increase” in people between 18 and 44 and among Hispanic residents, Health Department spokeswoman Nicole Riley told The Ledger, citing flareups in Wahneta, Fort Meade, Bartow and Mulberry.

In addition, while compiling city-by-city counts recently, LkldNow has also noticed higher increases in Lake Wales and Auburndale.

She also told the newspapers that the Health Department is seeing entire families testing and positive and hospitalizations in people 65 and older who are not connected with long-term care facilities.

Latest numbers

This morning’s COVID-19 updates from the Florida Department of Health compared with the previous day:

  • Polk confirmed cases: 1,634, an increase of 68
  • Lakeland confirmed cases: 608, an increase of 18
  • Polk deaths: 75, unchanged
  • Polk hospitalizations: 389, an increase of 3

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 tests: 34,814, an increase of 710
  • Positive: 1,634
  • Negative: 33,173
  • Inconclusive: 1
  • Await results: 11
  • Percent positive: 4.7%, an increase of 0.1%

A private dashboard compiled by former Department of Health geographer Rebekah Jones shows that 18,776 people have been tested in Polk and that 46.1% of the larger number of tests reported by the state represent retests or duplicates.

Long-term care facilities

  • Deaths involving Polk facilities: 56, unchanged
  • Number of Polk facilities with reported cases: 14, up from 10 when the state’s last report was issued Monday. Here’s a link to the most recent report.

Lakeland facilities with high numbers:

  • Highlands Lake Center reports 90 cases: 64 residents who were transferred away and 26 staff.
  • Lakeland Hills Center reports 68 cases: 31 residents, 28 who transferred away and 9 staff members. That reflects an increase in nine cases since Monday.
  • Grace Manor at Lake Morton reports 31 cases, all residents who were transferred away.
  • Consulate Health Care of Lakeland reports 24 cases: 9 residents, 12 who transferred away and 3 staff.

A large majority of COVID-19 deaths in Polk County have involved people who have lived in long-term-care facilities:

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:

33801: 82
33803: 49
33805: 130
33809: 59
33810: 80
33811: 27
33812: 23
33813: 128
33815: 24

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, 608
  • Winter Haven, 325
  • Davenport, 122
  • Bartow, 88
  • Lake Wales, 82
  • Auburndale, 71
  • Kissimmee, 63*
  • Mulberry, 69
  • Haines City, 46
  • Fort Meade, 37
  • Frostproof, 16
  • Lake Alfred, 14
  • Eagle Lake, 9
  • Poinciana, 9
  • Polk City, 9
  • Dundee, 6
  • Waverly, 4
  • Babson Park, 4
  • Wahneta, 2
  • Kathleen, 2
  • Gibsonia, 1
  • Cypress Gardens, 1
  • Bradley, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 1
  • Lake Hamilton, 1
  • Lakeshore (formerly Fedhaven), 1
  • Clermont, 1*
  • No city named, 37

* 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.

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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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