Today’s coronavirus update from the Florida Department of Health brought more news of high numbers for Polk: third most new cases in one day (384), fourth most tests (1,874) and a new high in the overall positive rate of tests (11.8%). In addition, a local assisted-living facility, Hawthorne Inn of Lakeland, has reported an outbreak, going from three cases in Saturday’s report to a dozen in today’s.

Today’s report adds one new Polk death, an 81-year-old man. It would appear he had lived in an elder-care facility, but it’s not entirely clear. Today’s reports from the state show one more death in Polk but four more deaths from elder-care facilities, presumably including patients whose deaths were already known but not attributed to elder-care facilities before now.

These updates came from the state Department of Health on a day when Florida reported 12,624 infections, second only to the 15,300 cases revealed on Sunday.

Today’s report reveals a large jump in cases in Haines City, which went from 387 cases on Saturday to 508 today.

Polk’s case volume started moving up again today on a chart maintained by the Florida Chamber of Commerce that evens up the daily ups and downs by showing a 14-day average. The chart reflects an average of 282 today, a new high after dipping slightly the last two days.

Polk County added eight new hospitalizations, a number that was typical in early July but lower than the 12-13 range of the last five days.

At Lakeland Regional Health, 133 patients are reported under care for COVID-19 today, a decrease of six from Friday’s number. Twenty-seven of those are in intensive care, boosting the total ICU usage to 78 beds, which is more than the 68 standard ICU capacity, but well under the 118 “flex” capacity.

In all, there have been 590 people hospitalized in Polk with COVID-19 since March, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The rate of tests that come back positive continues to rise. The DOH COVID-19 dashboard tracks overall positive rates for each county — the proportion of tests showing positive results since testing began in March. Today’s “percent positive” reading for Polk increased to 11.8%, a week after Polk crossed from the green-lettered “Within Target Range” of under 10% to the red-lettered “Above Target Range.”

Polk’s positivity rate was at 4.5% just over three weeks ago. The statewide positivity rate was reported at 10.7% today, a new high for the state.

Coronavirus cases started to spike in Polk County on June 19, and each of the last 20 days have seen readings of more than 150 new cases.

Lakeland is currently in the twelfth day of a 30-day mandate to wear masks or other face coverings in indoor spaces within Lakeland city limits (other than residences) where people aren’t able to maintain 6-foot distance. City commissioners voted 5-2 to require masks after Polk County Health Department Director Joy Jackson told them that local hospitals are seeing rising numbers of COVID-19 patients as the disease spreads in the community.

The median age of people testing positive in Polk has reduced from the mid-50s to 39 in recent weeks as more people in their 20s through 50s have started testing positive for the disease.

Latest numbers

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

  • Polk confirmed cases: 6,630 an increase of 384
  • Lakeland confirmed cases: 2,347, an increase of 82
  • Polk deaths: 141, an increase of 1
  • Polk hospitalizations: 590, an increase of 8

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: 64,688, an increase of 1,874
  • Positive: 7,630
  • Negative: 56,992
  • Inconclusive: 1
  • Await results: 24
  • Overall percent positive: 11.84%, an increase of 0.3%

Long-term care facilities

  • Deaths involving Polk facilities: 82, in increase of 4
  • Number of Polk facilities with reported cases: 41, the same as listed in Saturday’s report. Here’s a link to the most recent report.

Lakeland facilities with high numbers:

  • Highlands Lake Center reports 83 cases: 82 residents who were transferred away and 1 staff.
  • Lakeland Hills Center reports 71 cases: 31 residents, 38 who transferred away and 2 staff members.
  • Consulate Health Care of Lakeland reports 12 cases, all residents who have been transferred elsewhere.
  • Hawthorne in of Lakeland, 6150 Lakeland Highlands Road, joins the list today with 12 cases: 5 residents, 5 who were transferred away and 2 staff members. Saturday’s report listed three residents.
  • Grace Manor at Lake Morton reports 9 cases, all residents who were transferred away

A majority of COVID-19 deaths in Polk County have involved people who have lived in long-term-care facilities, though the proportion has come down from more than 75% a few weeks ago to 58.2% today:

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: 331, an increase of 22 since Saturday
33803: 205, an increase of 4
33805: 403, an increase of 27
33809: 235, an increase of 18
33810: 339, an increase of 17
33811: 170, an increase of 12
33812: 113, an increase of 14
33813: 338, an increase of 25
33815: 187, an increase of 15

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, 2,347
  • Winter Haven, 1,610
  • Davenport, 589
  • Haines City, 508
  • Bartow, 356
  • Kissimmee, 308*
  • Auburndale, 307
  • Lake Wales, 287
  • Mulberry, 274
  • Polk City, 248
  • Frostproof, 169
  • Fort Meade, 152
  • Lake Alfred, 80
  • Avon Park, 65*
  • Eagle Lake, 45
  • Dundee, 29
  • Lake Hamilton, 20
  • Poinciana, 20
  • Babson Park, 15
  • Waverly, 9
  • Kathleen, 5
  • Wahneta, 5
  • Homeland, 4
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 4
  • Highland City, 4
  • Eloise, 3
  • Eaton Park, 2
  • Alturas, 2
  • Bradley, 2
  • Nichols, 2
  • River Ranch, 1
  • Loughman, 1
  • Gibsonia, 1
  • Cypress Gardens, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Clermont, 1*
  • Florence Villa, 1 (new to the list)
  • No city named, 122

* 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, and Avon Park in Highlands County. The Avon Park cases reflect an outbreak at a state prison between Avon Park and Frostproof.

Download the latest detailed Florida report | View archived reports

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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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