SEBRING — Highlands County has recorded another seven deaths from or related to COVID-19, pushing the local death toll to 77.

The county’s number of cases also climbed by another 12 cases to 1,986, according to the Saturday morning report from the Florida Department of Health.

Health Department records indicate Saturday’s total was the largest single-day death toll for the county since June 1 — also seven deaths.

The Health Department also reported Highlands had 27 hospitalized with the virus on Saturday. There were 29 on Friday’s report and 21 on Thursday’s.

Highlands and many other counties in Florida still have higher death tolls than the entire states of Vermont, still with 58 deaths; Alaska, now with 43, and Wyoming, still with 42.

Meanwhile, Florida saw another 98 deaths in Saturday’s report, for a total of 12,600.

It was a marked drop from the 176 new deaths the state recorded on Friday and the more than 200 deaths recorded on Wednesday and Thursday.

The state has also passed the 660,000 mark in total number of COVID-19 cases Saturday. The total of 661,571 represented a 3,190 increase over Friday.

The state saw a jump of 3,650 cases in Friday’s update and 2,583 more cases in the Thursday report.

Friday’s report showed Florida had 43,399 COVID-19 patients in long-term care facilities, and another 21,548 in correctional facilities.

A county-by-county national database and COVID-19 dashboard at still ranks the county as “spreading.”

The same site listed the county as “epidemic” several weeks ago ago. Almost all surrounding counties still carry an “epidemic” status.

Cases in Florida’s Heartland, as of Saturday, were as follows:

- Polk County had a total of 18,337 cases, with a second day of a 109-case increase. Polk had 488 deaths, up five from the Friday report.

- Hendry County added another six cases Friday to have 2,014 cases, with still 41 deaths.

- DeSoto County added three more cases to now have 1,533 cases, with still 23 deaths.

- Okeechobee County, which added six cases on Thursday and another 18 on Friday, added another 12 in the Saturday report for a total of 1,325, along with another death for a total of 21.

- Hardee County, added another nine cases for a total of 1,211 cases, with still just nine deaths.

- Glades County, which had added 22 on Thursday and two cases Friday, added another four cases Saturday, but still has the lowest regional total with 474 cases — 14 fewer cases than Polk’s total deaths — and only four deaths.

Gilchrist County had a zero increase in Friday’s reports, the only county to do so that day, and had another zero increase on Saturday.

The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center records 6,452,607 cases in the United States, 35,421 new cases from the Friday morning tally, and fewer new cases than those reported Friday and Thursday morning.

U.S. deaths are at 193,177, Johns Hopkins reports, an increase of 796 from the Friday morning total, but a drop in the number of new deaths from the 937 new deaths reported Friday and the 1,472 new deaths in the Thursday total.

Worldwide, Johns Hopkins reports the pandemic had 28,545,999 total cases as of Saturday morning, up 277,029 from Friday’s total, and 916,670 total deaths, up 5,388 from Friday.

Tallies of new cases and new deaths, both nationally and globally, represent sight drops from the report on Friday.

Meanwhile, 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.

Those being tested must stay in their vehicles.

Anyone who feels sick or believes he or she may have been exposed to the virus is urged to their primary care physician or the local health department to be tested as soon as possible.

As always, people are advised to wear masks in public, especially indoors, to wash their hands thoroughly and to keep a safe physical distance of six feet or more from others to help slow and stop the spread of the virus.