TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - More than 62,200 Florida residents have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic hit the state in early 2020, according to a weekly Department of Health report issued Friday.
The report said the death toll as of Thursday was 62,220, up from 62,026 reported a week earlier. Lags in reporting make it unclear when the additional deaths occurred. The report came as many parts of the country see increased COVID-19 cases amid concerns about the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledged Friday that he expects to see an increase in cases in Florida but said it is part of a seasonal pattern.
"We do anticipate higher levels on Jan. 1, probably higher levels of COVID than Nov. 1, but this is the seasonal pattern," he said during an appearance at Ocala Regional Medical Center. "And what you’re seeing in the Midwest and the Northeast is almost exactly the same seasonal pattern that they had last year. It’s about three to four weeks behind last year’s schedule, but the rise and the peak and everything is happening very similar to what happened then. So we anticipate similar to what we saw in Florida last winter, lower than all those other areas but higher in January than … in November."
DeSantis appeared at the hospital to discuss a COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy that will be available to immunocompromised people such as cancer patients and transplant recipients. In all, about 3.74 million Florida residents have had reported cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, according to the Department of Health report.