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Florida sets another coronavirus death record with 257 reported fatalities

Record high numbers of COVID-19 deaths won't end soon, experts say.

Four days has seen four morbid records as the Florida Department of Health reported another 257 coronavirus fatalities to bring the state death toll for its residents to 6,843.

The 257 was slightly more than Thursday’s report of 253, but that makes for more than 500 deaths reported in the last two days and more than 900 in just four days. Another 123 non-Florida residents have died because of COVID-19.

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When state health officials report a death in the daily update, the number encompasses several days, with actual days of death occurring weeks prior in some cases. The state maintains a chart of actual days of death on its COVID dashboard showing the deadliest days as July 17 with 134 fatalities, but also more than 100 deaths each day between July 7-23.

Health experts said the uptick in deaths is expected as fatalities follow the surge in positive cases that took over the state earlier in July.

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The state health department also reported new 9,007 infections for a total of 470,386 to date, which has been the sixth straight day with less than 10,000 positive COVID cases.

More than 3.6 million people have been tested in Florida, with 49,200 more tests reported Friday.

Central Florida on Thursday added 1,225 cases for a total of 74,303: 420 new cases in Orange for 29,011; 207 in Polk for 12,488; 189 in Osceola for 8,470; 127 in Volusia for 6,834; 68 in Seminole for 6,487; 87 in Brevard for 5,420; 108 in Lake for 4,516; and 19 in Sumter for 1,077. (See details on all Central Florida cases here).

Central Florida had 39 of the deaths reported Thursday, bringing the regional toll to 944 including 10 more in Seminole, seven in Osceola, six in Brevard, six in Polk, four in Orange, three in Volusia and three in Sumter County. There were no new deaths in Lake County reported.

Central Florida accounts for nearly 16% of the cases statewide and nearly 14% of the deaths. The region’s share of the state’s deaths has ticked up compared with June and the start of July, when it had steadily remained at under 9% of Florida’s total.

Polk, due to nursing-home outbreaks, has the most coronavirus fatalities in Central Florida with 268, followed by 216 in Orange, 114 in Brevard, 112 in Volusia, 82 in Seminole, 71 in Osceola, 51 in Lake, and 30 in Sumter.

To date, 26,533 people have been hospitalized in Florida, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard shows, 516 more than a day earlier - the fourth day in a row with more than 500 new hospitalizations. Daily new hospitalizations are up sharply over the past two weeks statewide. They had averaged 200 from June through mid-July.

Across Florida, 8,278 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of about 10:15 a.m. Friday. The state’s online tool updates several times throughout the day.

However, in Central Florida, hospitalizations seem to have reached their peak — at least for now — after reaching an all-time high. Still, doctors and public health experts caution that COVID-19 hospitalizations are nowhere close to their lowest point two months ago and may go up again if more people are infected.

Orange County reported 451 patients hospitalized, Osceola with 148, Seminole with 127, and Lake with 93 as of about 10:15 a.m. Friday.

Statewide, the latest positivity rate made available by the Florida Department of Health, for Wednesday, was 10.57%, the 13th day in a row of a positivity rate under 15%.

South Florida, home to 29% of Florida’s population, now has reported 207,147 postive cases, which is 4,223 than a day earlier. The three-county region is the epicenter of the pandemic in Florida, accounting for 44% of cases among Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

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South Florida’s reported deaths on Thursday rose by 138 for a total of 3,135, nearly 46% of the state’s total.

Some researchers say Florida’s death toll could double by Labor Day unless people devote themselves to social distancing and facial coverings.

A detailed breakdown of Florida’s coronavirus cases can be found here, and county-by-county data can be found here.

The virus has infected over 17 million people and has killed over 673,000 worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. In the U.S., nearly 4.5 million people have been infected and over 152,000 are dead.

The U.S. has the most fatalities by far, followed by Brazil with over 91,000, the United Kingdom and Mexico with over 46,000 each, Italy and India with over 35,000 each and France with over 30,000.

Within the U.S., New York has the most deaths with over 32,000, followed by New Jersey with over 15,000.

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Local coronavirus victims: Their lives remembered

  • Deborah Denise Henson spent much of her adult life in pain — the result of a freakish accident that left her with plates and screws in her back. But you wouldn’t have known it from her smile. She survived a host of medical problems before succumbing to COVID-19.
  • Pong Hui Chartier, known as “Connie” to customers at the dry cleaning business she operated in Ocoee, liked to do things her way. “She’s never been someone that rested. She was always go, go, go. If anyone was going to live to be 100, it would be my mother,” her daughter said. At 79, Pong Hui took only one medication — for her thyroid. But in early March, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. Weeks later, she died as a victim of coronavirus.
  • Pneumonia caused by COVID-19 killed both Pete and Eleanor Baker, retired snowbirds who were married nearly 62 years and spent winters in an RV in Central Florida.

Symptoms? Do this

Are you feeling stressed or depressed from the COVID19 outbreak? There are resources available for you. You can contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or visit https://www.samhsa.gov/disaster-preparedness

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How to protect yourself

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick and avoid contact with people in poor health.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of the tissue.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Follow these recommendations for using a face mask: The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Follow these guidelines for using a cloth mask.

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Questions? Here are numbers to call

The Florida Department of Health has set up a call center to answer questions about coronavirus. There’s a number for Orange County, too.

The Florida Department of Health’s number is 1-866-779-6121 and is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents may also email questions to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

In Orange County, the number to call is 407-723-5004; it’s available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For mental-health help, here is a list of resources.

For accurate, up-to-date information, visit

See complete coverage at OrlandoSentinel.com/coronavirus.

This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Naseem Miller of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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