News today that another Polk long-term-care resident has died of COVID-19 means that two-thirds of the county’s fatalities from the disease — 24 out of 36 — are associated with elder-care facilities.

Polk has one dozen new confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to this morning’s report from the Florida Department of Health, bringing the county’s total to 687.

The new death involves an 89-year-old man whose case was first confirmed on May 2.

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

As of last Friday’s report, 18 of Polk’s deaths involved Highlands Lake Center in south Lakeland and there was one death each involving Consulate Health Care of Lakeland and Brandywyne Health Care Center in Winter Haven.

The parent company of Highlands Lake, Opis Senior Services, said that COVID-19 financial setbacks has forced it to lay off or furlough nearly 100 employees across its 11 facilities in Florida, including Highlands Lake, The Ledger reported today.

One of the laid-off workers at the Lakeland facility who did not want to be identified said 35 employees there lost their jobs.

Latest numbers

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

  • Polk confirmed cases: 687, an increase of 12
  • Lakeland confirmed cases: 272, a decrease of 1 (The decrease was unexplained; perhaps one was identified with another city.)
  • Polk deaths: 36, an increase of 1
  • Polk hospitalizations: 222, an increase of 6

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 83 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: 11,729, an increase of 119 over the previous day. That increase is modest compared with the record numbers — 552 and 622 — reported in the last two days.
  • Positive: 687
  • Negative: 11,039
  • Inconclusive: 3
  • Await results: 4
  • Percent positive: 5.9%

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: 146, an increase of 16
  • Deaths involving Polk facilities: 24, an increase of 1
  • Number of Polk facilities with reported cases: 9 | 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 7 residents, 56 residents who were transferred away and 23 staff.

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: 25, unchanged
33803: 26, an increase of 1
33805: 45, unchanged
33809: 20, unchanged
33810: 30, a decrease of 1
33811: 1-4
33812: 11, unchanged
33813: 89, a decrease of 1
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, 272
  • Winter Haven, 121
  • Davenport, 68
  • Kissimmee, 40*
  • Lake Wales, 40
  • Bartow, 38
  • Auburndale, 20
  • Haines City, 16
  • Mulberry, 13
  • Fort Meade, 10
  • Lake Alfred, 5
  • Frostproof, 5
  • Poinciana, 4
  • Dundee, 3
  • Polk City, 3
  • Eagle Lake, 2
  • Wahneta, 2
  • Kathleen, 2
  • Babson Park, 2
  • Bradley, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Cypress Gardens, 1
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 1
  • Lake Hamilton, 1
  • Lakeshore (formerly Fedhaven), 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 Wednesday.

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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