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Palm Beach County moves into 'high' COVID-19 community category after CDC confirms 'processing error'

Broward, Miami-Dade counties also listed as top level
Posted at 3:43 PM, May 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 10:46:16-04

Three South Forida Counties — Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade — have moved into the highest of three COVID-19 community levels after a "data processing error" was noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Three categories as determined by the CDC are "high," "medium" and "low" — with different commendations to halt the spread out coronavirus, including mask wearing indoors recommended for the most severe level and additional measures for high-risk people.

For medium and low, you are encouraged to "wear a mask if you have symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19." At the medium level, "if you are at high risk for severe illness, consider wearing a mask indoors in public and taking additional precaution."

Originally, the three counties were listed as "medium" like Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee, with Indian River County listed as "low."

The CDC on Thursday released a footnote to the data, which said that a "data processing error" had Florida's per capita case rate blank in every county. The two other factors to calculate the level are hospitalizations and testing positivity.

"Of note, Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach counties should have appeared in the high CCL category, and Osceola County should have appeared in the medium CCL category," the CDC footnote reads.

The South Florida SunSentinel originally noticed the footnote notation.

Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of South Florida, posted on Twitter: "The more I think about this, the more infuriating it is. 3 in 10 people in Florida live in Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach county. 3 in 10."

A person in any of these counties would currently see this recommendation based on their medium "county level."

Since the pandemic, Salemi has been posting data about the coronavirus, including county and Florida information as well as nationwide on his website.

The high categories in three counties reflects surging cases, positivty rates and hospitalizations.

Cases statewide are at the highest level since mid-February (60,204 past week), the positivity rate of 13.4% is greatest since early February, hospitalizations (1,941) are the most since mid-March and deaths' increase (270 for 14 days) is up from 230 two weeks ago.

In the state report Friday, cases' latest figure is more than 20,000 above 39,374 one week ago with 32,956 two weeks ago and 8,040 eight weeks ago, which is the lowest since the weekly reports began. The last time the weekly figure was this high: 102,953 the week ending Feb. 11. The record is 400,000.

The seven-day rolling daily average is 8,600, the most since 10,043 Feb. 13. The figure 1,127 on March 22 is the lowest since 1,106 June 8, 2020. The record: 65,277 Jan. 11 (456,946 in a week).

On Friday, the most recent reporting date, 8,501 cases were posted, the most since 8,896 Feb. 12. One week ago it was 3,660 and May 10 13,395 was most since 15,427 Sept. 12. The daily record: 76,609 Jan. 8.

Broken down by county, the state report listed the following cases in the past week: Palm Beach 4,640, St. Lucie 584, Indian River 353, Martin 319, Okeechobee 29, Broward 7,828, Miami-Dade 13,968

Palm Beach County is at 17.0% first-time positivity rate (two weeks ago 9.2%), St. Lucie 10.3% (6.6% two weeks ago), Martin 12.4% (7.4% two weeks ago), Indian River 14.1% (7.4% two weeks ago), Okeechobee 6.4% (1.0% two weeks ago, Broward 14.3% (9.7% two weeks ago, Miami-Dade 13.4% (9.1% two weeks ago). Counties under the target 5% are Dixie (3.9%), Gilchrist (4.6%), Gulf (4.8%), Holmes (4.5%), Jackson (3.2%), Suwanee (4.1%), Union (3.8%).

The CDC lists overall positivity rates Palm Beach 17.45%, St. Lucie 13.57%, Martin 14.9%, Indian River 12.84%, Okeechobee 8.91%, Broward 19.04%, Miami-Dade 18.26%.

Hospitalizations are at 1,967 for covid (3.38% capacity) with a day ago 1,982 (3.4%), the most since 2,033 (3.56) March 8. Last week ago it was 1,745 (2.98%) and April 11 it was 892 (1.58%), least since record-keeping began July 2020, according to Department of Health and Human Services. The record was 17,295 (2.35%) on Aug. 29 during the delta variant surge.

Nonresidents' deaths are 74,330, which is an increase of 270 for two weeks (135 weekly), compared with 230 two weeks ago, 1,167 eigh weeks ago. When the state was on weekly reports, it was 288 on Jan. 7. Early in the pandemic the lowest weekly deaths figure was 144 on March 27. The

The state report doesn't list county deaths' data but the CDC issues weekly reports with 11 each in Palm Beach County and Broward with 21 in Miami-Dade and less than 10 in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee.''

In March, the CDC started designating "community levels." Since the pandemic, the CDC had "community transmission," which is based on cases and tests, and is broken into "low," "moderate," "substantial" and "high." Virtually the entire state, including South Florida is listed as "high" except for Okeechobee at "substantial.":