On the day that Florida’s governor announced the state is moving into “full Phase 1” reopening, the daily updates from the Florida Department of Health continued bringing sobering news to Polk County: Three more people here have died of COVID-19, including a 36-year-old woman, the county’s youngest victim.

While there have been several other days when two deaths were reported, this is the first time three local deaths were reported on the same day.

The 36-year-old woman had not traveled recently and had no known contact with other COVID-19 cases, according to today’s update. Her case was first confirmed on April 24.

The other two victims were women ages 76 and 79. At least one of them had been a resident of a long-term-care facility. Neither had traveled recently and both had known contact with other cases, the Health Department reported. The older woman’s case was first confirmed more than a month ago — April 9 — while the other case was confirmed on April 21.

If there was any good news in today’s report, it’s that there were no new COVID-19 hospitalizations in Polk for the first time in 11 days.

The Department of Health reports don’t indicated which elder-care facility was involved in one of the deaths. But a report expected later today will give an update on how many deaths are associated with specific facilities.

Latest numbers

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

  • Polk confirmed cases: 716, an increase of 18
  • Lakeland confirmed cases: 286, an increase of 9
  • Polk deaths: 40, an increase of 3
  • Polk hospitalizations: 224, unchanged

Hospitalizations hit a plateau toward the end of April with just five new cases between April 22 and 28, but the rate of new patients has quickened since then, with 85 new admissions since the end of April.

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 tested: 12,369, an increase of 237 over the previous day.
  • Positive: 716
  • Negative: 11,649
  • Inconclusive: 4
  • Await results: 4

The numbers of people being tested remains small compared with Polk County’s estimated population of 724,777 people. A shortage of test kits means that until recently only people showing severe symptoms and/or high risk were tested. (Free testing offered by the Health Department Saturday morning at New Bethel AME Church is the first testing in Lakeland that we’re aware of where a doctor’s order will not be required.)

Long-term care facilities

  • Cases involving Polk facilities: 147, a decrease of 4
  • Deaths involving Polk facilities: 26, an increase of 1
  • Number of Polk facilities with reported cases: 10 | List (This link lasts only until the next day’s list is published.)

In Lakeland, the bulk of cases are from Highlands Lake Center, which today reported positive cases for 90 people: 9 residents, 57 residents who were transferred away and 24 staff.

That’s an increase of two residents, one who has been transferred away and one staff member.

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: 27, an increase of 1
33803: 26, unchanged
33805: 49, an increase of 1
33809: 21 an increase of 1
33810: 31, an increase of 1
33811: 1-4
33812: 11, unchanged
33813: 95, an increase of 5
33815: 13, unchanged

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, 286
  • Winter Haven, 123
  • Davenport, 69
  • Lake Wales, 42
  • Kissimmee, 40*
  • Bartow, 39
  • Auburndale, 21
  • Haines City, 16
  • Mulberry, 13
  • Frostproof, 11
  • Fort Meade, 10
  • Lake Alfred, 5
  • Poinciana, 4
  • Polk City, 4
  • Dundee, 3
  • Eagle Lake, 3
  • Wahneta, 2
  • Kathleen, 2
  • Babson Park, 2
  • Bradley, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Cypress Gardens, 1
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 1
  • Lake Hamilton, 1
  • Waverly, 1
  • No city named, 5

* 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 the full Florida report released Friday.

Tracking the cases

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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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  1. I think with 9 new deaths alone in Lakeland today, the curve is definitely not flattening. We should have continued like Gov. DeSantos originally said ” smaller then baby steps”…what happened?

  2. Sorry I was mistaken. I meant there were 9 new reported cases in Lakeland. And 3 deaths. We should remain at our phase 2 for a good minute to see how things go. To fast puts everyone at risk.

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