Polk is among a growing number of Florida counties where the Centers for Disease Control is recommending indoor masking as the number of infections here has risen steadily from a low of 230 case in the last week of March to 2,116 last week.

Those numbers are according to the bi-weekly updates issued by the Florida Department of Health, which do not account for infections confirmed via home testing. See the latest state update here; it was issued on Friday.

Testing positivity is also on the rise in Polk County, going from a low of 1.9% in mid-March to 14.8% for the week of May 27 to June 2. Health officials look for rates of under 5% as a sign that community spread has been contained and consider rates above 10% as a signal that more precautions are needed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates Polk’s “COVID-19 community level” as high and recommends: “Wear a mask indoors in public and on public transportation. Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. Get tested if you have symptoms. If you are at high risk for severe illness, consider taking additional precautions.”

According to the CDC’s Thursday update, Polk County is experiencing a case rate of 265.05 per 100,000 population, up from 242.83 the previous week, and new COVID-19 hospital admissions of 12.6 per 100,000, up from 10.9 the previous week.

The proportionof “staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with confirmed COVID-19” remains low at 3.1% in Polk, according to the latest CDC update.

CDC COVID-19 community levels by county: orange – high; yellow – medium; green – lowlow

Polk is one of 24 counties in Florida — mostly along the eastern coast and in the I-4 corridor — rated by the CDC as having a high community level. The week before last, Polk was one of nine such Florida counties. The week before that, only three south Florida counties were ranked as high.

Statewide, the testing positivity rate remains in the double digits at 16.2% and hospitalizations increased 24.2% last week, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Across Florida, 3,040 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 from May 25 to 31, the latest White House report shows. That compares with 1,934 hospitalized two weeks ago and 1,279 four weeks ago.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com 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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