Vast majority of Florida counties at highest COVID risk as Christmas nears, data show

Daily COVID-19 cases in a majority of Florida’s counties have reached a “tipping point” before Christmas, according to Harvard University data.

Researchers are mapping coronavirus risk levels for U.S. states and counties, usingthe seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people as a guide. As of Friday, at least 63 of Florida’s 67 counties are in the “red” zone, with 25 or more coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

The Harvard Global Health Institute released a map that uses four colors to show the risk level in different counties: green, yellow, orange and red. Red means that area is at a “tipping point” and stay-at-home orders are “necessary.”

On Thursday, Florida’s Department of Health reported 13,148 daily coronavirus cases — the highest single-day count since July 16, when 13,965 cases were reported, according to The Miami Herald.

Florida has the third highest overall number of coronavirus cases in the country after Texas and California, according to the New York Times COVID-19 database.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 5,128 coronavirus patients admitted into hospitals throughout Florida, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration dashboard. In mid-August, there were more than 5,000 patients admitted to hospitals throughout the state.

There are more than 17 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and more than 311,000 deaths as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

County breakdown

Miami-Dade County and Hendry County have among the highest per capita case rates in the state, according to the risk level dashboard. The rates were 82.2 and 78.2 daily new cases per 100,000 people, respectively.

Bradford County also has a high per capita rate, with 74.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Calhoun County has 72.9 cases per 100,000 people, while Osceola County was at 57.5, Harvard researchers said.

Manatee County is also in the “red” level with 42.8 cases per 100,000 people, the data found.

Franklin and Dixie counties are in the “orange” level with 11.8 and 17 daily new cases per 100,000 people, respective. Flagler and Glades counties are the remaining counties in the “orange” level, at 23.8 and 17.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Holiday risk

The Georgia Institute of Technology released a map that helps assess the risk of at least one person testing positive for COVID-19 at your holiday event.

A gathering of 50 people in Miami-Dade and Manatee counties has a risk level of 88% and 64% respectively — reflecting the probability of at least one coronavirus-positive person will show up.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said that travel advisories and restrictions may be required during the holiday season to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Fauci said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Nov. 29. “I don’t want to frighten people, except to say it is not too late to do something about this.”

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising against travel for Thanksgiving, more than 9 million Americans did so at airports in the week before the holiday and the weekend after, according to CNBC.

The CDC warns that holiday gatherings with people who don’t live in your household can greatly increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“As cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase across the United States, the safest way to celebrate the winter holidays is to celebrate at home with people who live with you,” the CDC wrote.

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