Aug. 15 (UPI) — Florida officials reported a reduction in the number of positive COVID-19 cases Saturday, but also said they expected the number of deaths to increase in the coming weeks — while New York reported a record high number of tests performed and the lowest number of new cases since mid-March.
Also Saturday, Michigan’s governor signed an executive order to increase safety precautions in the state’s correctional facilities.
As of Saturday 169,146 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus and 5.3 million have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Dashboard.
The Centers for Disease Control reported 56,729 new cases and 1,229 new deaths nationwide Saturday.
Florida’s Department of Health reported Saturday that 204 Florida residents have died from COVID-19, and at least 6,352 more have been infected.
Nearly 9,500 Floridians have died from the virus.
Health officials say the daily totals are not reflective of results from the last 24 hours due to a lag time of several days or even weeks for confirmations of deaths due to the virus, and that Florida’s recent data show an improvement from negative trends in July: the number of new cases has not been higher than 10,000 since July 25.
But experts in the state expect the death toll will climb due to a surge of infections in July. The daily average over the last seven days has been a reported 177 deaths, and the state has reported more than 200 deaths on four of the past five days.
Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Saturday to establish new coronavirus safety and testing protocols in correctional facilities in the state through the end of September.
Under the order, people must be tested upon entry to, transfer and release from prisons, jails and juvenile detention facilities.
Whitmer’s order also resumes the suspension of transferring people from jails to prisons unless the jail adopts certain risk-reduction protocols — including screening of people entering or leaving a facility and testing inmates presenting symptoms of the virus, as well as providing employees with personal protective equipment.
And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that hospitalizations for COVID-19 had hit a low since March 17, with 523 people being hospitalized with the virus.
The state also set a record for the number of COVID-19 tests reported to the state Saturday: 88,668.
“In New York, we knew from the beginning that testing would be a key factor in controlling this new virus,” Cuomo said in a press release. “We ramped up testing immediately and took a nation-leading role in developing capacity to test as many New Yorkers as possible, and I’m proud that we continue to raise the bar and we’ve broken our record high once again.”