FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida reached a grim milestone this week: More than 75,000 people in the state have died of COVID-19.

The new death toll comes as COVID hospitalizations are rising to levels last experienced during Florida’s winter surge and two-thirds of the counties in the state — including South Florida’s three counties — have moved into the red zone for high risk of community spread.

Over the past two weeks, another 506 COVID-related deaths were reported in Florida and more than 300 were admitted to Florida hospitals with the virus, an indication that some Floridians are at high risk from the omicron strains now circulating.

As of Friday, more than 3,500 patients were in Florida hospitals for COVID-19, up from 3,200 patients a week ago and about 1,000 COVID patients in early April. The increase in hospitalizations may be a result of the sheer volume of cases. Only about 5% of Florida ICU beds are occupied by COVID patients, according to U.S. Health and Human Services data.

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Florida reported 74,323 confirmed new COVID cases for the week ending June 16, up from about 60,000 per week just a month ago. Of course, the state numbers do not include the people who are confirming results using at-home tests.


Three or more strains of omicron are circulating in Florida at this time: the highly transmissible BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariant, the BA.2 subvariant as well as newcomers BA.4 and BA.5. According to Helix, which does surveillance for variants, the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant first identified in South Africa is gaining ground in Florida, now making up 12% of samples sequenced compared to only 3% a month ago.

Some epidemiologists have described what’s happening as the “battle of omicron.”

Florida heath officials on Friday reported a statewide test positivity rate of 17.2%.

Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are reporting test positivity rates that are slightly lower than the prior week. Palm Beach’s rate is 18.9%; Broward’s is 20.8% and Miami-Dade’s is 20.4%. Health officials consider transmission levels under control when the rate is less than 5%.