Polk County reported 1,424 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 this week, more than double last week’s report of 687 new cases and the largest one-week jump since the beginning of the year.

The weekly update from the Florida Department of Health (see it here or at the end of this article) comes as the White House singled out Florida for contributing nearly one in every five new cases in the nation.

The 45,604 new infections reported statewide last week is a level not seen since the third wave of the pandemic peaked in April, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

In Polk County, the 1,424 new cases reported for July 9-15 nearly equal the number reported in the first week of May. The level of new cases steadily declined between then and the middle of June, but that number has increased every week starting June 18.

The testing positivity rate of testing in Polk is also rising, from 5.2% last week to 13.3% this week, the highest rate since the week of Jan. 8.

Statewide, the positivity rate was slightly lower than Polk’s this week at 11.5%, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.

The number of new cases this week per 100,000 population are reported as lower than the statewide average for Polk, with a rate of 197.9 for Polk and 207.5 statewide.

The number of patients treated for COVID-19 at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center has doubled from 50 at the beginning of July to 108 on Friday, Terry Hamilton, LRH’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, told The Ledger.

Many of the patients are in younger age brackets, and the hospital staff suspects the Delta variant is fueling the spread, he said.

Vaccination rates are slowly rising in Polk, where 51% of eligible teens and adults have received at least one dose. Last week saw 3,430 new vaccinations, which is 15% higher than the previous week, The Ledger reported.

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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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