COVID chart

The latest reports tracking COVID-19 in Polk County contain mixed messages: New infections declined for a second straight week after the omicron strain brought record levels. Hospitalizations at Lakeland Regional Health were down slightly Monday from week-ago levels. But deaths in Polk and throughout Florida continue rising.

New cases in Polk fell to 7,582 for the week of Jan. 21-27 from 10,837 the previous week, according to Friday’s update from the Florida Department of Health. While that represents a 30% dive, it was still the fourth highest number of weekly infections in the 22 months since the pandemic began.

Testing positivity in Polk last week was 27.6%. While that’s still considerably higher than the 10% that local officials are targeting, it marks the first time in four weeks that the rate fell below 30%.

Hospital admissions countywide of patients with COVID-19 declined 28.7% to 403 for the seven days ending last Saturday from 565 a week earlier, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The decline at Lakeland Regional Health was a more modest 4.6%. The number of patients testing positive for COVID-19 was 247 at noon Monday, compared with 257 one week earlier, the hospital reported.

That number is above the peak of 180 patients during last January’s surge but well below the 423 patients at the height of the summer delta surge last August.