For several weeks, much of LkldNow’s reporting effort has focused on how COVID-19 has affected our community, and how the community is responding. To deepen that understanding, we have added a new info graphic that tracks the number of tests reported daily in Polk County and how many of those tests uncover new cases of the disease.

The data comes from the Florida Department of Health’s daily evening reports on COVID-19. Check an archive of those reports. Here is the new chart:

Our COVID-19 page shows the new chart alongside another chart that tracks daily changes in new cases in Lakeland and Polk. We placed them next to each other (when viewed on a desktop computer, at least) in order to compare the trends easily. Here is that chart:

The new chart came about because readers looking at the chart showing the rise and fall of daily cases made the valid point that it’s hard to understand that information without knowing the number of tests being reported each day.

A caveat: The data from the state Department of Health offers the best comparisons we have currently, but it isn’t represented as showing the complete picture. Since the supply of test kits is limited, many people who have the disease are not being tested, and some health experts estimate the true number could be 10 times what the official numbers show.

In order to bring more context to the charts, I wanted to add trend lines. The program I use for online display doesn’t do that, but Microsoft Excel does. So I created two more views in Excel. Here’s a look at the countywide data for testing and new cases using a moving trend line that reflects a seven-day average:

LkldNow updates the info graphics on Polk County’s testing and new COVID-19 cases each evening after the state Department of Health updates are released.

Those and two other info graphics we update daily can be found on our COVID-19 page. One shows the totals so far for confirmed cases in Polk and Lakeland, hospitalizations in Polk and deaths in Polk:

The other one looks at the number of hospital beds in use at Lakeland Regional Health and countywide compared with the total number of staffed beds. The lines (in blues for countywide and in reds/oranges for Lakeland Regional) will come together if the hospitals lose capacity to fill more beds:

Questions or comments? We’re not data geeks, but we play ones online. We’d love to get feedback from experts. Use the comments form below or send an email to

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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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