The statewide death toll may have dropped, but it was a rough day for Highlands County, which saw an additional three COVID-19-related deaths with the release of Saturday’s numbers by the Florida Department of Health. That brings the death toll in the county to 29. The ages of the three new deaths ranged from 62 to 80.

The county saw 36 new confirmed cases, raising the total to 1,197. There were 235 negative tests, yielding a positivity rate of 13.3% — the third-highest rate the county has seen in the past two weeks.

Twenty of the new cases were found in those age 44 or younger and the median age for the new cases was 40. This followed three straight days of a median age in the 50s and a lower median age is viewed as a positive, as younger people have shown an ability to fend off the virus better.

Of the 29 deaths in Highlands County, 17 have been in those age 75 and older and there has been only one person under the age of 54 to have died.

With schools making final plans regarding reopenings, the state’s Pediatric Report — showing detailed information on COVID-19 cases in those 17 and younger — was a bit of a mixed bag. There were 4,896 new cases, which is a decent drop from the 7,980 new cases last week, but there were also 61 new hospitalizations, which is up four from last week’s 57.

Highlands County has seen 81 cases in those 17 or younger. There have been 827 negative tests for a positivty rate of 9.8%, which is five full points below the state average of 14.8%. Positivity rates have varied greatly by county, ranging from the 3.8% in Franklin County to the 25.6% found in Glades County.

Throughout the state, there have been 36,046 cases in those under 18, with 35.7% of those cases occurring in the last two weeks.

The overall numbers in Florida climbed 9,642 cases to a total of 480,028. The positivity rate for the day was 11.08%, which is fairly consistent with the past eight days, where the number has been between 10.56% and 12.26%.

The World Heath Organization recommends a positivity rate of 5% or less for two weeks before reopening.

After four straight days of record death numbers, the death toll dropped to 179 from the previous day’s 257, bringing an end to an ugly July for the state. July saw 3,338 COVID-19 deaths — an average of 107.67 per day — after seeing 3,550 in March through June. The daily average for the first four month the virus was found in Florida was 29.09 deaths per day. There have now been 7,144 COVID-19 deaths in the state, with 7,022 residents and 122 non-residents.

Miami-Dade County saw 2,740 new virus cases, while Broward County had an increase of 1,387. Palm Beach County saw an increase of 581 cases and Hillsborough County picked-up an additional 469 cases. Orange County added 450 cases.

Duval County (287), Pinellas County (257) and Polk County (244) each had an increase greater than 200, while 11 additional counties saw an increase of at least 100 new cases.

Nearby DeSoto County saw an increase of 22 cases and now has a total of 1,285. Of the new cases, 12 were found in those age 24 or younger and the median age for the day was just 21, the lowest DeSoto has seen in the past two weeks.

Glades County saw an increase of two after three straight days of no new cases, but the county has tested just 39 people the past seven days. Of the 391 cases in Glades, 261 of them are related to a correctional facility.

Hardee County saw nine new cases, with five of those occurring in the 24-and-under crowd. The county has now seen 841 cases.

Okeechobee County saw an increase of 30 cases on just 115 tests for a positivity rate of 26.1% for the day. Twelve of the cases were in those 24 and younger.

Nationally, there have been 4.58 million cases and 153,642 deaths. Florida trails only California in the number of cases and is No. 7 in deaths due to the virus.

On a global scale, there have been 17.64 million cases and the death toll is at 680,575.

COVID-19 testing will take place Tuesday, August 4 and Tuesday, August 18, at Lakeshore Mall near Sears between 5 and 7 p.m. Testing at the same location will take place Tuesday, August 11 and Tuesday, August 25 between 8 and 10 a.m.

Testing at the Lake Placid Camp & Conference Center will take place Thursday, August 13 and Thursday, August 27 between 8 and 10 a.m. Testing will take place there on Thursday, August 20 between 5 and 7 p.m.

To be tested at Lakeshore Mall or the Camp & Conference Center, call 863-386-5690 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and Friday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Advance reservations are required.