Coronavirus

Miami-Dade coronavirus numbers now surpass Broward as cases hit triple digits

The number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in Miami-Dade County has entered the triple digits, hitting 101 on Thursday night.

Before Thursday, Broward County was leading the state in cases. It now has 96.

One new death in the state was announced Thursday, as well. A person has died in Duval County who had previously tested positive for COVID-19, raising the toll to nine.

The statewide total is now 432 cases, double the number of cases just two days ago. Nearly half of those cases continue to be in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

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The Florida Department of Health added 15 cases in Miami-Dade County, bringing the total to 101. Just 39 have known links to travel. In Broward County, 16 cases were added, bringing the total to 96 there, with 50 of the cases currently linked to travel history.

Due to supply shortage concerns, testing for COVID-19 has been limited, with most of the tests reserved for people who require treatment or are showing symptoms and have some travel connection or ties to confirmed cases.

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So far, 438 people have been tested in Miami-Dade, with 221 of them negative and 116 pending.

More people have been tested in Broward. Of the 682 tested, 300 were returned negative, and 286 are pending.

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The new numbers underscore increasingly drastic efforts by Miami-Dade County to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, with Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Thursday ordering the closure of all parks and non-essential businesses.

Nail salons, golf courses, offices, casinos and other gathering spots were ordered to close by Thursday night. Businesses offering “essential services,” such as construction sites, engineering firms, pet-supply stores and others, will be allowed to remain open.

Measures used to stop people from congregating have come in the absence of widespread testing that would inform government and pubic health officials of the true scope of the virus’ reach.

The testing that is being done is being hindered by supply shortages.

In South Florida, some Broward County hospitals don’t yet have the ability to do in-house testing due to a shortage of testing components, meaning they have to send specimens off site and wait several days for results from commercial labs to come back. Other startup efforts to test people, such as nonprofit federally qualified health centers, have been similarly stymied by shortages of specimen collection kits, or the swabs used to take samples.

Ben Conarck is a reporter covering healthcare at the Miami Herald, which he joined in August 2019. He was previously an investigative reporter covering criminal justice at The Florida Times-Union. In 2018, he and reporter Topher Sanders received Columbia University’s Paul Tobenkin award for outstanding reporting on race and the University of Colorado’s Al Nakkula award for outstanding police reporting for their multi-part investigation “Walking While Black.” Conarck has also extensively covered the Florida prison system.
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