Polk County has added 276 new COVID-19 cases, and nine more people have died from the disease here, according to today's update from the Florida Department of Health. Before today, the highest number of new deaths reported in one day was the five recorded last Tuesday.

Polk accounted for nearly one in five of the 48 deaths reported in Florida today.

The people who died included six women and three men. The women were ages 51, 61, 63, 79, 81 and 88. The men were ages 49, 75 and 82. Four of the nine had lived in elder-care facilities.

In addition, the Department of Health reported 11 new hospitalizations in Polk, accounting for 7.3% of the state's 151 new hospitalizations.

It was the highest number of new hospitalizations reported in Polk since May 5. There were four days between April 21 and May 5 when between 12 and 17 new hospitalizations were reported as the coronavirus began spreading in a small number of local nursing homes.

If there was any good news today, it's that while new cases are still high (as shown by today's count of 276), the chart of new cases below could indicate a downward trend from the peak of 402 Polk cases on June 27.

The rate of tests that come back positive continues to rise. The DOH COVID-19 dashboard tracks overall positive rates for each county — the proportion of tests showing positive results since testing began in March. Today's “percent positive” reading for Polk was 10.1, the first time it crossed from the green-lettered “Within Target Range” to the red-lettered “Above Target Range.”

Polk's positivity rate was at 4.5% just over three weeks ago. The statewide positivity rate was reported at 7.4% today.

Coronavirus cases started to spike in Polk County on June 19, and each of the last six days have seen readings of more than 200 new cases.

Lakeland is currently in the sixth day of a 30-day mandate to wear masks or other face coverings in indoor spaces within Lakeland city limits (other than residences) where people aren’t able to maintain 6-foot distance. City commissioners voted 5-2 to require masks after Polk County Health Department Director Joy Jackson told them that local hospitals are seeing rising numbers of COVID-19 patients as the disease spreads in the community.

Jackson spoke to the Polk County Commission this morning. Afterward, four of the five commissioners told The Ledger they are unwilling to vote for a mask mandate, but commissioners appeared ready to support a resolution encouraging the wearing of masks. They also instructed their staff to buy 1 million masks at an estimated 20 cents each to distribute for free to county residents.

The median age of people testing positive in Polk has reduced from the mid-50s to 39 in recent weeks.

A state Department of Health chart shows that the 25-34 age group now has the most cases in Polk. Until recently, the 35-44 demographic was slightly higher. Today's chart:

Latest numbers

This morning’s COVID-19 updates from the Florida Department of Health compared with the previous day:

  • Polk confirmed cases: 5,472, an increase of 276
  • Lakeland confirmed cases: 1,707, an increase of 61
  • Polk deaths: 114, an increase of 9
  • Polk hospitalizations: 511, an increase of 11

The numbers of confirmed cases and hospitalizations are cumulative and do not reflect how many people have recovered or have been released from the hospital.

Testing in Polk

  • Total tests: 54,081, an increase of 1,389
  • Positive: 5,472
  • Negative: 48,564
  • Inconclusive: 1
  • Await results: 20
  • Overall percent positive: 10,1%, an increase of 0.2%

Long-term care facilities

  • Deaths involving Polk facilities: 72, an increase of 4
  • Number of Polk facilities with reported cases: 27. Here's a link to the most recent report.

Lakeland facilities with high numbers:

  • Highlands Lake Center reports 110 cases: 81 residents who were transferred away and 29 staff.
  • Lakeland Hills Center reports 77 cases: 378 residents, 38 who transferred away and 2 staff members.
  • Consulate Health Care of Lakeland reports 29 cases: 9 residents, 12 who transferred away and 8 staff.
  • Grace Manor at Lake Morton reports 16 cases, all residents who were transferred away.

A large majority of COVID-19 deaths in Polk County have involved people who have lived in long-term-care facilities, though the proportion has come down from more than 75% a few weeks ago to 63.2% today:

The state’s weekly report counting deaths affiliated with specific long-term-care facilities included seven new cases in Polk. Here are the Polk County elder-care facilities where deaths of residents have been reported:

  • Highlands Lake Center on Lakeland Hills Boulevard: 26, an increase of 1
  • Lakeland Hills Center on East Bella Vista Street: 9, an increase of 2
  • Brandywyne Health Care Center in Winter Haven: 8, unchanged
  • Consulate Health Care of Lakeland on North Socrum Loop Road: 7, unchanged
  • Grace Manor at Lake Morton on Lime Street: 7, an increase of 1
  • Palm Garden of Winter Haven: 6, an increase of 1
  • Winter Haven Health and Rehabilitation Center, 3, an increase of 1
  • Astoria Health and Rehabilitation Center in Winter Haven, 1 (new this week)

More Polk County data

The Florida Department of Health is now releasing county-by-county charts. Here are today's for Polk:

Click the image to view a larger version
Click the image to view a larger version

ZIP Codes

Cases in Lakeland ZIP codes:

33801: 251, an increase of 41 since Friday
33803: 163, an increase of 18
33805: 301, an increase of 38
33809: 161, an increase of 21
33810: 245, an increase of 26
33811: 119, an increase of 15
33812: 76, an increase of 13
33813: 248, an increase of 18
33815: 129, an increase of 17

For the first time, a Lakeland ZIP Code — 33805, largely the area north of downtown and south of I-4 — today showed as red on the state's map, indicating it has more than 300 cases.

It joins three other red Polk ZIP Codes centered around Bartow and Winter Haven, as well as nearby communities such as Plant City and Kissimmee.

View an interactive ZIP code map here. To find local ZIP code data, click on the “Cases by Zip Code” tab below the map and then scroll to Polk and click. Learn how ZIP code data is reported.

Cases in Polk cities

  • Lakeland, 1,707
  • Winter Haven, 1,173
  • Davenport, 423
  • Bartow, 296
  • Haines City, 280
  • Kissimmee, 220*
  • Auburndale, 207
  • Lake Wales, 198
  • Polk City, 196
  • Mulberry, 178
  • Fort Meade, 117
  • Frostproof, 155
  • Lake Alfred, 53
  • Eagle Lake, 37
  • Dundee, 20
  • Poinciana, 14
  • Lake Hamilton, 13
  • Babson Park, 12
  • Waverly, 9
  • Kathleen, 4
  • Homeland, 4
  • Wahneta, 3
  • Indian Lakes Estates, 3
  • Highland City, 2
  • Eaton Park, 2
  • Eloise, 2
  • Alturas, 2
  • River Ranch, 1
  • Loughman, 1
  • Gibsonia, 1
  • Cypress Gardens, 1
  • Bradley, 1
  • Champions Gate, 1
  • Lakeshore (formerly Fedhaven), 1
  • Clermont, 1*
  • No city named, 113

* While Kissimmee is in Osceola County, the Health Department classifies a portion of east Polk as Kissimmee. It maintains a separate number for the Osceola portion of Kissimmee. A similar situation exists for Clermont, which is in Lake County.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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