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Florida surpasses 10,000 coronavirus deaths

Florida on Wednesday surpassed 10,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to state figures, almost six months since the first case was identified in the state.

The state reported 174 new deaths Wednesday, bringing its total since the pandemic began to 10,067.

California, New York, Texas and New Jersey are the only other states whose COVID-19 fatalities have reached five digits.

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Even as deaths have been increasing, Florida’s average number of weekly coronavirus cases has declined. 

Earlier this summer, as the state reported an average of 11,000 cases a day, state officials touted the low death rate as a positive sign. But deaths always lag behind infections, and the number has increased rapidly. 

Half of all COVID-19 deaths in the state have occurred in just the last month.

The state has reported fewer hospitalizations in recent days. As of Wednesday, about 5,300 people were in the hospital with the virus, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.  

According to state officials, Florida has now gone a full week with daily positivity rates below 10 percent. But the state health department reportedly does not count positive retests, only the initial negative test, leading to an inaccurate lower rate.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the state's seven-day rolling average positivity rate is 16.4 percent.

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Statewide diagnostic testing has also been decreasing. 

On Monday, the health department reported the fewest number of tests processed since June, with 20,248. The seven-day rolling average was nearly 33,000 tests, down from a high of nearly 66,000 in July. 

Nationwide, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging. There are nearly 5.5 million cases in the U.S. and 172,000 deaths so far.

COVID-19 is currently the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind only heart disease and cancer, eight months after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country.