Polk Adds a Record Number of New COVID-19 Infections for a Fifth Straight Week

Polk County added 7,510 new COVID-19 cases this week, setting a new record for a fifth week in a row, according to the weekly update from the Florida Department of Health. The average positivity rate of tests in Polk dipped to 23.2% this week from last week’s record of 28.9%, but still significantly above the 5% rate desired by public health officials.

View an interactive version of this graphic.

Driven by the delta variant of COVID-19, the number of new infections this week is more than twice the 3,579 cases recorded the week of Jan. 10-16, the highest peak before the current spike.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that the rate of growth in new cases decelerated during the last three weeks compared with the huge surge of the three prior weeks.

For the first time, Polk exceeded 1,000 new cases per 100,000 population, coming in at 1,043.5, the 13th highest of Florida’s 67 counties. The statewide average was 690.5 new cases per 100,000 populaiton.

In this week’s update, which was released this evening and covers Aug. 20-26, Polk continues to fare worse than statewide averages for Florida, one of the nation’s hardest-hit states:

  • New case positivity this week: 23.2% for Polk vs. 16.8% statewide
  • Overall case positivity: 24.6% for Polk vs. 20.3% statewide
  • Vaccinations – Age 12+ residents receiving at least one dose of vaccine: 59% in Polk vs. 68% statewide.

In all, 107,867 infections have been reported in Polk County since March 2020, according to the DOH.

Across Florida, 151,749 new infections reported this week, bringing the state’s cumulative total to 3,179,714.

The increase in infections has also brought record high caseloads to Lakeland Regional Health, which reported Thursday that 433 patients that morning had tested positive for COVID-19, filling more than half of the hospital’s 864 beds.

LRH has been releasing COVID snapshots each Monday and Thursday in August. Thursday’s figures showed new records for COVID patients in intensive care — 64 — and those on ventilators — 52.

LRH has also begun posting graphics to social media showing the proportion of its COVID patients that had or had not received vaccinations. The most recent graphic, posted Thursday, showed that 84% of that day’s COVID-19 patients had not been vaccinated. Unvaccinated people accounted for 90.6% of COVID patients in intensive care and 86.5% of those on ventilators.

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