Florida set new records today for its number of new COVID-19 cases. So did Polk — in a big way. This morning’s Department of Health update showed 154 new cases in Polk — more than the combined cases for the last two days, and those had been new highs.

Statewide, another 3,822 cases were added today, bringing the state’s total to 89,748. To the west of Polk, both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties set new records for daily cases.

Florida Gov. DeSantis downplayed the high numbers, saying hospitalizations remain low and the disease is affecting more younger people, who often show fewer symptoms.

“A new case is just a positive test. It doesn’t mean somebody’s sick,” DeSantis said today. “The number of cases is not necessarily something that’s going to tell you what the burden of the disease is.”

In Polk, new hospitalizations are being reported daily, but the numbers have been in the single digits just about every day since May 5.

New deaths were reported in Polk today and Thursday, but there were no new deaths reported here for the four previous days.

The latest victims were both men, one aged 67 and one 75. Neither lived in a long-term-care facility.

The median age of people contracting the disease in Polk County has dropped from 50 to 35 in recent weeks. The age group with the most cases is 35 to 44.

From today’s Department of Health report for Polk County

Polk County Commissioner Bill Braswell mentioned the shift in demographics in a comment on a LkldNow a Facebook post today. In response to a reader’s question about where new cases were being seen in the county, Braswell referred to a briefing this morning by Polk County Health Department Director Joy Jackson and said the new cases were “primarily young people, family clustering and pockets within the Hispanic community.”

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 earlier this week, 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.

Riley also told the newspaper 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.

In recent days, the proportion of Polk’s cases involving Lakeland residents appeared lower, but today nearly half of the new cases — 75 — were from Lakeland. That figure alone is more than any previous daily figure for the entire county.

With today’s higher numbers, the state is reporting a higher overall proportion of positive tests in Polk County. The cumulative proportion is 5.3% today, compared with 4.9% reported Thursday. This is the first time since May 19 that the proportion has exceeded 4.9%.

A new dashboard prepared by former DOH geographer Rebekah Jones shows a higher rate for positive tests in Polk County. Jones contends that the DOH dashboard’s figure for positive tests includes multiple retests and duplicates.

She says that when looking only at the number of people tested rather than the number of tests given, the positivity rate is 9.8% for Polk and that rate has risen steadily since it was 7.6% on June 13.

A careful reader asked on Facebook why the numbers reported by LkldNow sometimes differ from numbers reported elsewhere. So our method is worth explaining.

When we started tracking metrics in early April, the only local numbers available were from the Florida Department of Health’s web-based COVID-19 dashboard. Each day we noted the difference between that day’s number and the previous day’s and added it to our charts.

That dashboard is typically updated around 11 a.m., and the number represents new cases reported since the last day’s update.

Subsequently, the Florida Department of Health started producing detailed PDFs with state and county data. Those reports show cases reported from midnight to midnight the previous day.

Some media sources have chosen to report the previous-day figures, but LkldNow has stuck with the dashboard’s number of new cases to keep our charts consistent.

Latest numbers

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

  • Polk confirmed cases: 1,856, an increase of 154
  • Lakeland confirmed cases: 698, an increase of 75
  • Polk deaths: 77, an increase of 1
  • Polk hospitalizations: 406, an increase of 10

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: 35,237, an increase of 543
  • Positive: 1,856
  • Negative: 33,374
  • Inconclusive: 1
  • Await results: 11
  • Percent positive: 5.3%, an increase of 0.4%

Jones’ dashboard shows that 19,005 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 on Thursday. (Today’s report has not been posted yet.) Here’s a link to the most recent report.

Lakeland facilities with high numbers as of Thursday:

  • Highlands Lake Center reports 110 cases: 81 residents who were transferred away and 29 staff.
  • Lakeland Hills Center reports 69 cases: 31 residents, 29 who transferred away and 9 staff members. That reflects an increase in nine cases since Monday.
  • Grace Manor at Lake Morton reports 29 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: 92, an increase of 10 since Wednesday
33803: 58, an increase of 9
33805: 157, an increase of 27
33809: 68, an increase of 9
33810: 91, an increase of 11
33811: 39, an increase of 12
33812: 24, an increase of 1
33813: 133, an increase of 5
33815: 34, an increase of 10

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, 698
  • Winter Haven, 364
  • Davenport, 137
  • Bartow, 96
  • Lake Wales, 87
  • Auburndale, 80
  • Kissimmee, 74*
  • Mulberry, 68
  • Haines City, 55
  • Fort Meade, 41
  • Frostproof, 22
  • Lake Alfred, 15
  • Eagle Lake, 13
  • Polk City, 10
  • Poinciana, 9
  • Dundee, 7
  • Waverly, 4
  • Babson Park, 4
  • Kathleen, 3
  • Wahneta, 2
  • Gibsonia, 1
  • Cypress Gardens, 1
  • Bradley, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 1
  • Lake Hamilton, 1
  • Lakeshore (formerly Fedhaven), 1
  • Clermont, 1*
  • Homeland, 1 (new to the list.)
  • No city named, 44

* 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.

Download the latest detailed Florida report | View archived reports

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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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