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Florida tops 1.5 million COVID cases; hospital ICUs starting to fill

Jane Musgrave
Palm Beach Post
A healthcare worker prepares to test a person for COVID-19 at the FITTEAM Ball Park of the Palm Beaches drive-through facility in West Palm Beach on Thursday.

With 14,896 new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday and hospital admissions climbing, Florida is continuing to validate predictions that the winter would mark the worst stage of the pandemic.

As  Florida passed the 1.5 million mark in the total number of people infected, Palm Beach County is mirroring state trends, according to the Florida Department of Health. 

The additional 753 new cases reported in the county Tuesday drove the weekly total to 6,456. That's far more than the weekly high of 5,198 reported in July, when life-altering restrictions were in place to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

More:Coronavirus Florida: Latest charts and case counts

In addition to rising caseloads, hospital beds are filling up.

Three hospitals in the county — Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and West Boca Regional Medical Center — had no empty beds in their intensive care units Tuesday afternoon, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. 

Hospital officials have said they have broad flexibility to add ICU beds to meet demand.

Here are some other takeaways from the daily update from the Florida Department of Health.

1,503,482 — Total people diagnosed with COVID-19 statewide since the pandemic began.

93,295 — Total people in the county infected since March. Since January 2020, at least 1 out of every 16 county residents has been infected, according to a tracker run by The New York Times.

161 — Additional fatalities across the state. In the past week, 1,070 deaths have been reported. That's the most since Aug. 21, when 1,028 were logged.

2 — Deaths reported in the county. However, researchers say there's a five-week lag in South Florida between when a death occurs and when it's reported by the state. Further, the daily numbers fluctuate wildly. On Monday, 18 were reported.

23,585 — State death toll from COVID-19.

2,004 — People in the county who have succumbed to the highly contagious respiratory disease.

7,713 — People hospitalized throughout the state for treatment of COVID-19. That's the most hospitalized on a single day since Aug. 8, when 6,910 people were being treated.

436 — Patients in county medical centers being treated for COVID-19. The record patient count occurred on July 16, when 667 people in the county were hospitalized.

10.59% — The state’s daily positivity rate. Over the past two weeks, it has averaged 12.05%. That is more than double the 5% level health experts say is needed before any meaningful steps can be taken to control the spread of the virus.

10.22% — The county’s daily positivity rate. It has dropped below 10% only once during the past six days.

597,119 — People statewide who have received the first dose of the two-shot vaccine. An additional 5,1324 have received both shots.

46,911 — People in the county who have received one dose. Another 979 have received both doses.

Advice: “People should not think for one minute that the vaccine is a magic bullet,” said Dr. Alina Alonso, county health director. “We still have a long way to go before we have herd immunity.  ... There’s a huge light at the end of the tunnel but it’s a long tunnel."

jmusgrave@pbpost.com