SEBRING — Highlands County had four more deaths from COVID-19, as of Saturday morning’s numbers.
Also, the county’s COVID-19 case numbers have gone up and down each day over the past week, and were back up to 22 new cases Saturday morning, based on Friday’s tests.
The county now has 2,148 cases, with 19 hospitalized and 86 deaths.
After three days of relatively low increases, the county’s 22 cases as of Saturday’s update was 16 more than Friday morning’s update of six new cases
Thursday’s update saw 11 and Wednesday’s saw seven.
Tuesday had also seen 22 new cases, while Monday’s update had three more.
Last Saturday’s update, the morning of Sept. 19, had 21 new cases.
The new case numbers are somewhat reflected by the testing rates. Sept. 18 saw 434 tests. Sept. 19 had 283.
All through last week, testing numbers ranged from 118 to 213, topping off at 356 on Friday, resulting in Saturday’s tally.
Statewide, Florida reported 2,791 new cases as of Saturday morning, pushing the statewide total to 698,682 cases — just one day’s average increase away from 700,000.
Meanwhile, statewide deaths in Florida from COVID-19 have totaled 14,022, adding 107 new deaths on Saturday morning, a slight decrease from the 120 new virus deaths reported on Friday’s update.
Okeechobee County had 16 more cases in the Saturday update, one less than the 17 case increase on Friday, for a total of 194 new cases in the past 11 days. By comparison, Highlands had 130 new cases in the past 11 days, but Highlands has more than double the population of Okeechobee County.
DeSoto County, which had only one new case on Friday morning, added another five on Saturday morning.
Glades County, which had seven cases reported on Friday, had that day’s increase adjusted to six, with another six new cases on Saturday, with a testing positivity rate of 37.5%.
Hardee County had 23 new cases on Saturday for a positivity rate of 23.96%, a jump up from 11.29% on Friday, while Hendry County had six new cases for a positivity rate of 10.17%.
Statewide the previous day positivity rate was 4.15%, a drop from the rate of 5.85% at the beginning of last week and more in line with the low-end of the state’s two-week positivity average.
Highlands rate, as of Saturday’s update, 5.82%, a jump up from 3.13% on Friday’s update but a drop from 9.36% at the beginning of last week.
The county’s two-week average positivity rate is 4.22%.
Several counties had no new cases on Saturday:
- Lafayette County saw two days of no new cases, down from two days in a row on Wednesday and Thursday of just one new case.
- Dixie County had no new cases as of Saturday’s update, down from just one new case on Friday.
- Gulf County had no new cases Saturday, down from two new cases Friday.
- Madison County had no new cases, down from three on Friday.
- Hamilton County had no new cases Saturday, down from eight Friday.
Jefferson County had just one new case Saturday, down from two each of the previous days, while Washington County, which had no new cases as of Friday, had five new cases on Saturday.
The following counties had triple digit increases in virus cases: Broward — 190, Dade — 376 (down from more than 500 on Friday), Duval — 153, Hillsborough — 218, Orange — 162, Palm Beach — 162, Pinellas — 121 and Polk — 127.
From March 15 through Thursday, there have been 3,834,582 unemployment claims processed in Florida, with 2,003,411 claimants paid, for a total of $16.6 million in state and federal dollars — $3.29 million of that from the state.
Throughout the pandemic, 16,237 state prison inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, with 30 more added Friday over Thursday’s updates.
Also, 3,106 state corrections workers have tested positive, an increase of 16 added Friday over Thursday’s updates.
Nationwide, Saturday’s tallies showed 7,048,285 virus cases in the United States, an increase of 50,817 over Friday’s numbers, and 204,026 deaths, an increase of 979 since Friday.
Worldwide, there have been 32,647,382, an increase of 290,553 cases over Friday’s total, and 990,473 deaths, an increase of 5,705.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration announced on Friday it would back off requirements that facilities for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities must test staff members for COVID-19 every two weeks.
The move comes after the administration decided this month to no longer require assisted living facilities and nursing homes to test staff members.
Meanwhile, Highlands County is still providing free testing for county residents.
The Board of County Commission, in partnership with Highlands County Department of Health and AdventHealth, is bringing free COVID-19 drive-up testing as part of the Federal CARES Act.
To make advance reservations, call 863-386-5690 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.
Testing will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 30, Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28 at Lakeshore Mall (near Sears) 901 U.S. 27 South, Sebring, weather permitting.
Express service is available with a reservation from 8-10 a.m. Drive-ups welcome (without reservations) from 8-9 a.m.
Testing is free with a valid government ID. All ages welcome, but for Highlands County residents only. Neither insurance nor a doctor’s prescription are not required.
News Service of Florida contributed to this report.