The number 15 showed up several times in local tallies of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Fifteen was the number of new cases in Lakeland, the number of new hospitalizations in Polk, and the number of new cases in the 33813 ZIP code, which includes the Lakeland Highlands.

The 33813 ZIP code also includes Highlands Lake Center, an elder-care facility where 35 residents were transported to Lakeland Regional Health on Saturday and that at least 29 have tested positive for COVID-19.

It is unclear but likely that the rising numbers are a delayed reflection of the Highlands Lake cases.

The increase in hospitalizations still doesn’t include all those cases. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 diagnoses in Polk increased by 15 to 111 on Tuesday after growing by eight over the previous six days, according to Florida Department of Health records.

The number of cases confirmed at long-term care facilities in Polk rose by 14 to 56 on Tuesday. There are six elder-care facilities in Polk where cases have been confirmed, according to an updated state report.

Polk County recorded its 15th COVID-19 death on Tuesday. It involved a 44-year-old man, the youngest Polk resident who has died from the disease. He had not traveled recently and had no known contact with other contacts, according to Tuesday evening’s report from the Florida Department of Health. His case was first counted on Monday, the report said.

In Polk County, the median age of confirmed COVID-19 patients is 53, but all of the deaths except two involve people older than that. Six of the 14 were in their 80s, two were in their 90s, two in their 70s, three in their 60s, and two were in their 40s.

The total number of confirmed cases in Polk County rose to 356 on Tuesday, an increase of 21, the county’s fourth-highest daily increase. Cases in Lakeland grew by 15 to 138, the city’s largest daily increase, as seen in a chart below.

Tuesday’s report shows that 5,408 people have been tested in Polk, up 131 from the previous day. In addition to the 356 positive readings:

  • 5,050 were negative
  • 2 were inconclusive
  • 7 await results

LkldNow is introducing a new chart tracking the number of people in Polk County tested for COVID-19 each day and reflecting the number of those cases resulting in confirmed cases.

The number of positive cases is likely 10 times the official number, Polk County Health Department Director Joy Jackson told city commissioners recently. 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:

33801: 5 to 9 cases
33803: 11 cases
33805: 21 cases
33809: 5 to 9 cases
33810: 12 cases
33811: 1 to 4 cases
33812: 5 to 9 cases
33813: 58 cases
33815: 5 to 9 cases

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.

Current totals reported for Polk cities are:

  • Lakeland, 138
  • Winter Haven, 57
  • Davenport, 50
  • Kissimmee, 29*
  • Auburndale, 14
  • Lake Wales, 13
  • Mulberry, 9
  • Haines City, 8
  • Bartow, 6
  • Fort Meade, 6
  • Lake Alfred, 5
  • Frostproof, 4
  • Poinciana, 3
  • Eagle Lake, 2
  • Babson Park, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Dundee, 1
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 1
  • Polk City, 1
  • Wahneta, 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 Tuesday.

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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