After a July that produced nearly 70% of Polk County’s COVID-19 cases to date, the number of new cases here has taken a downturn in August, but so has the volume of testing.

July ended with 8,652 new cases for the month, which was 69.28% of all cases reported in Polk by July 31, according to a compilation of data from the Florida Department of Health. The month saw an average of 280 new cases per day, a significant jump from June’s 93.5. Also:

  • Deaths in Polk were also way up in July: 170 (5.48 per day) compared with 43 (1.43 per day) in June.
  • Hospitalizations in Polk: 652 (21 per day) in July; 156 (5.2 per day) in June.
  • Tests in Polk: 39,943 (1,288.5 per day) in July; 25,285 (842.8 per day) in June.

Numbers of new cases have been decidedly lower since July 26, as have new tests., as seen in these two charts:

However, the number of tests that produce positive results have stayed above the 10% target for all but one day in the last week, when the proportions have ranged from Monday’s 7.6% to Tuesday’s 13%

One semi-encouraging sign: The overall positive rate of all tests given in Polk has hit a plateau of 14.4% to 14.5% for the last five days after rising almost daily since June 14-15 when it was 4.5%.

August started with lower death numbers in Polk than were typically seen in July: a total of three fatal cases in the first three days of the month. But those figures have accelerated with 15 reported Tuesday and 12 today, bringing the county’s death total to 298.

The deaths reported today involved 10 men and two women. The men were ages 65, two who were 68, 71, 74, 76, 78, 79, 81, and 83. The women were ages 65 and 91. 

Many of the new deaths in Polk are from residents of long-term-care facilities, which reported eight today and eight on Tuesday.

Hospitalizations

Polk County started August with fewer new hospitalizations the first three days of the month, but new admissions accelerated to 36 Tuesday and 36 today, according to a tally from the Florida Department of Health.

At Lakeland Regional Health, 169 patients are reported under care for COVID-19 today, an increase of 11 since Tuesday. Twenty of those are in intensive care, where currently 69 ICU beds are in use.

In all, there have been 1,215 people hospitalized in Polk with COVID-19 since March, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration reports 263 current patients with COVID-19 as their primary diagnosis in all Polk County hospitals.

Testing

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 14.5%. The number has risen steadily since it registered at 4.5% on June 14-15.

The statewide positivity rate is also rising and reached 14.52% today.

Coronavirus cases started to spike in Polk County on June 19, and each of the last 35 days have seen readings of more than 150 new cases until this week when 140 new cases were reported Monday and 94 on Tuesday. Today’s update showed 188 new cases, as the total increased to 13,415 infections.

Lakeland City Commissioners on Monday renewed a 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. The order expires Sept. 8, unless commissioners renew it when they meet that day.

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.

While numbers remain high, a trend line showing a seven-day average for new cases in Polk shows a downward trend for 10 out of the last 11 days, a period when the volume of testing was also lower:

This image comes from a COVID-19 dashboard created by University of South Florida epidemiolgist Jason L. Salemi

Latest numbers

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

  • Polk confirmed cases: 13,419 an increase of 188
  • Lakeland confirmed cases: 4,096, an increase of 68
  • Polk deaths: 298, an increase of 12
  • Polk hospitalizations: 1,215, an increase of 36

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: 92,439, an increase of 956
  • Positive: 13,419
  • Negative:  78,938
  • Inconclusive: 83
  • Overall percent positive: 14.5%, unchanged

Long-term care facilities

  • Deaths involving Polk facilities: 159, in increase of 8
  • Number of Polk facilities with reported cases: 47, a decrease of 2 since our last report last Tuesday. Here’s a link to the most recent report.

Lakeland facilities with high numbers: An upcoming article will list the local elder-care facilities with high numbers of cases.

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 53.36% as of 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: 542
33803: 333
33805: 685
33809: 393
33810: 671
33811: 335
33812: 213
33813: 571
33815: 328

A color-coded state map shows every Lakeland ZIP code but one in red, the color signifying 300 or more cases. The exception is 33812, a mostly unincorporated area west of Lake Hancock. Most of the I-4 corridor now shows in red on the map:

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, 4,096
  • Winter Haven, 2,697
  • Haines City, 1,104
  • Davenport, 1,069
  • Bartow, 685
  • Kissimmee, 612*
  • Auburndale, 587
  • Mulberry, 484
  • Lake Wales, 431
  • Polk City, 305
  • Frostproof, 227
  • Fort Meade, 212
  • Lake Alfred, 146
  • Eagle Lake, 73
  • Avon Park, 66*
  • Dundee, 59
  • Poinciana, 39
  • Lake Hamilton, 38
  • Babson Park, 29
  • Waverly, 16
  • Eaton Park, 12
  • Highland City, 9
  • Kathleen, 8
  • Eloise, 7
  • Wahneta, 6
  • Bradley, 6
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 5
  • Homeland, 4
  • Nichols, 4
  • Alturas, 2
  • Lakeshore, 2
  • River Ranch, 2
  • Loughman, 2
  • Gibsonia, 2
  • Cypress Gardens, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Clermont, 1*
  • Florence Villa, 1
  • No city named, 208

* 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 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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