With 10 new COVID-19 cases showing up on Sunday’s release of numbers by the Florida Department of Health, Highlands County continued its crawl towards the 2,000-case barrier. The county has now seen 1,996 cases, which consists of 1,987 resident cases and nine involving non-residents.

After seeing seven deaths in Saturday’s update, there were no additional deaths on Sunday’s report, keeping the county death toll at 77.

With 333 cases (17%) related to long-term care facilities, Highlands County is still more than twice as high as the state average of 7% of cases being tied to a long-term care unit. The county’s death rate of 4% is also twice as high as the state average.

The county’s 10 new cases did come from 416 processed tests, yielding a positivity rate of just 2.4% for new cases, the lowest the county has seen in the past 13 days.

There have been 209 hospitalizations for COVID-19, which is 11% of all cases, which is close to twice the state average that sees 6% of cases requiring hospitalization. There were 27 currently hospitalized as of Sunday.

Nearby, DeSoto County saw just one new case out more than 50 tests, so a good day on the testing front there. They have now had 1,534 cases.

Glades County saw one new case out of 11 tests and has had a total of 475. More than half of the county’s positive results are correctional facility related, with 272 of the cases tied into corrections.

Hardee County had an increase of 13 positives out of just 82 tests, giving a positivity rate of 15.85%. Hardee County has seen double-digit positivity rates in 10 of the last 14 days and has had 1,224 cases.

Okeechobee County saw nine new cases out of 88 tests for a positivity rate of 10.23% It’s the second straight day with a double-digit positivity rate for Okeechobee County, with the previous 12 days all in single digits. There have been 1,333 cases in the county.

The news was good for the state overall, with 2,423 new cases and a positivity rate of 4.26%, the lowest the state has seen in the past two weeks. The state now stands at 663,994 cases, with 656,485 of those being Florida residents. There have been 7,509 non-resident cases.

There were eight new deaths reported, bringing the total to 12,764. Of those, 156 deaths have been non-residents.

According to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, there have been 6.5 million cases in the United States and 193,176 deaths.

Globally, there have been a total of 28.8 million cases and 921,564 deaths.

The Highlands County Board of County Commission, in partnership with the Highlands County Department of Health and AdventHealth Sebring, will have free COVID-19 drive-up testing 5-6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the AdventHealth medical complex at 4240 Sun ‘N Lake Blvd. in Sebring.

Testing will be available by appointment from 5-7 p.m. on those days at that location, weather permitting.

Another testing event will have drive-through testing 8-9 a.m. Sept. 22 in the north end of Lakeshore Mall parking lot at 901 U.S. 27 South, near the old Sears.

Testing by appointment will be 8-10 a.m. Sept. 22.

Appointments can be made by calling 863-386-5690 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays.

All ages are welcome. People being tested must be Highlands County residents, according to a valid government identification card, and must be prepared to provide their date of birth, address and contact number.