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Florida reports COVID deaths in the single digits for first time since September

 Hopeful news from Florida: The state health department this week reported only a single-digit daily increase in the number of new reported deaths linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the lowest number in nearly seven months.

Florida's health department said Monday that seven more residents and two non-residents died because of COVID-19. The Palm Beach Post reported that over the previous two weeks, daily reported COVID deaths in Florida ranged between 22 and 98 people. Since January, weekly reported deaths have slowly declined, and this most recent report is back in the single digits.

Every death is tragic. The last time Florida reported single-digit deaths was Sept. 28, when the state said there were five new deaths that week, before deaths increased in the following months. Hopefully, deaths will continue to decline in Florida and across the nation as state governments work to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to those who need them.

The Florida health department also reported 5,520 new cases of COVID-19, with about 7.76% of virus tests coming back positive daily. Florida has the most cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19, with 3,510 cases identified. There are also 126 cases of the Brazil variant and 27 cases of the COVID-19 variant from South Africa.

Vaccine distribution in Florida has increased since Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last month that everyone over the age of 18 would be eligible to receive the vaccine on April 5. By Sunday, nearly 1 million more people in Florida received a shot of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines after they became eligible.

The number of people ages 16 to 24 who received their first shot more than doubled from 78,669 to 163,393. Those aged 35 to 44 were the group that got the most vaccines, with 169,117 shots in arms reported for that age group.

Florida prioritized senior citizens for vaccine distribution, and now almost 3.5 million seniors have received their first vaccine shot. More than 2.72 million seniors are fully vaccinated.

Overall, more than 7.2 million people in Florida have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Nationwide, the New York Times COVID-19 tracker reports there is an average of 70,000 new daily cases reported. There are about 730 coronavirus deaths reported daily, which is the fewest since October. Michigan is the state experiencing the largest spike in COVID-19 cases.

Nearly 3.1 million Americans are receiving a vaccine shot each day. President Joe Biden has set an April 19 deadline for states to make all adult Americans eligible to receive the vaccine, but 43 states were already making vaccines eligible for those ages 18 or older at the time of Biden's announcement.

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