People at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities account for nearly one in 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Polk County, but they account for three out of the 10 deaths reported here.

Statewide, one in five COVID-19 deaths have taken place at long-term care facilities.

The number of deaths in long-term-care facilities was added to daily Florida Department of Health reports on Wednesday, and the evening report showed three deaths in Polk facilities.

The same report shows there have been 10 COVID-19 deaths in Polk County. They include four women and six men: a 49-year-old woman, three people in their 60s, two in their 70s, two in their 80s and two in their 90s.

The total number of cases reported at nursing homes or other long-term care facilities in Polk was 25 on Wednesday, up from 21 the day before. That accounts for 8.7 percent of Polk’s 287 reported cases.

Polk’s 25 cases represent 2 percent of Florida’s 1,332 cases in residents or staff of long-term care facilities.

Eight counties have recorded more deaths at long-term-care facilities:

  • Dade, 26 out of 155 total deaths.
  • Palm Beach, 24 out of 107 total deaths.
  • Broward, 19 out of 94 total deaths.
  • Duval, 9 out of 14 total deaths.
  • Manatee, 8 out of 19 total deaths.
  • Charlotte, 4 out of 6 total deaths.
  • Clay, 4 out of 9 total deaths.
  • Lee, 4 out of 23 total deaths.

The 122 statewide deaths at long-term-care facilities represents 20 percent of the state’s 614 deaths.

The Florida Department of Health public reports do not list the names or cities of the long-term-care facilities where cases are reported. However, The Ledger reported Tuesday that at least six cases out of the 19 recorded in Polk as of Monday were residents connected to Highlands Lake Center on Lakeland Highlands Road.

A spokeswoman with the Polk County Health Department told Bay News 9 they are working with nursing homes and assisted living facilities to identify cases and prevent the spread:

Our “communication includes asking questions about any new respiratory symptoms or fever presented in staff or residents at the various facilities. We also check to see if they have adequate PPE supplies,” said Nicole Riley, spokeswoman with the Polk County Department of Health.

Other recent news reports on nursing home cases in Polk include one at News Channel 8 and this video from Fox 13 News:

More Polk numbers

Wednesday in Polk:

  • Polk County recorded eight new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 287.
  • Five new cases were reported in Lakeland.
  • Four new cases were seen at long-term care facilities.
  • The total number of people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Polk rose by five.
  • No new deaths were recorded.

The number of people who have been hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases in Polk grew to 91 on Wednesday, according to the Florida Department of Health’s evening report. State officials note this number is cumulative and does not reflect the number of people currently in hospitals.

Wednesday’s report shows that 4,428 people have been tested in Polk, up 109 from the previous day. In addition to the 279 positive readings:

  • 4,138 were negative
  • 3 were inconclusive
  • 9 await results

The number of positive cases is likely 10 times the official number, Polk County Health Department Director Joy Jackson told city commissioners last week. Those who test positive now probably contracted the disease two to three weeks ago, given the time it takes for symptoms to show and test results to be processed.

In addition, the numbers of people being tested remains tiny compared with Polk County’s estimated population of 708,000 people. A shortage of test kits means only people who meet CDC criteria are being tested.

ZIP code data for Lakeland on Tuesday:

24 cases:

19 cases:

10 cases:

5 to 9 cases: 

1 to 4 cases:

View an interactive ZIP code map here or at the end of this article. 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.

Current totals reported for Polk cities are:

  • Lakeland, 91
  • Winter Haven, 53
  • Davenport, 46
  • Kissimmee, 25*
  • Auburndale, 13
  • Lake Wales, 13
  • Mulberry, 7
  • Haines City, 7
  • Lake Alfred, 5
  • Fort Meade, 5
  • Frostproof, 3
  • Poinciana, 3
  • Bartow, 3
  • Eagle Lake, 2
  • Babson Park, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Dundee, 1
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 1
  • Polk City, 1

* 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.

Download a full report for Wednesday.

Tracking the cases

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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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