(Miami Herald) Florida’s Department of Health on Monday morning confirmed 1,758 additional cases of COVID-19, following a weekend of cases surpassing 4,000. The state now has 77,326 confirmed cases of the disease.

There were also seven new deaths announced Monday, raising the statewide death toll to 2,938.

CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES IN SOUTH FLORIDA

More than than half of the new deaths but less than half of the new cases were in South Florida:

▪ Miami-Dade County reported 280 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one new death. The county now has a total of 22,197 confirmed cases and 826 deaths, the highest in the state.

▪ Broward County reported 158 additional confirmed case of the disease and one new death. The county now has a total of 9,086 and 358 deaths.

▪ Palm Beach County saw 182 additional confirmed cases and three new deaths. The county’s known total is now at 9,015 with 429 deaths.

▪ Monroe County reported one additional case of the disease and no new deaths. The Florida Keys now have a total of 130 confirmed cases and four deaths.

Here’s a breakdown on what you need to know:

CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES IN FLORIDA

More than half of the state’s known COVID-19 cases are in South Florida’s four counties: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe. Miami-Dade continues to lead the state with the most confirmed cases and deaths. It has 22,197 known cases and 826 deaths.

One of the tools that officials are relying on to determine if the novel coronavirus situation is improving in the state is hospitalization data. Unlike testing, which might be limited or take days to report results, hospitalizations can help give officials a real-time visual of how many people are severely ill with COVID-19.

The health department says it does not “have a figure” to reflect the number of people currently hospitalized and only provides the total number of hospitalizations in its statewide and county-level data. On Monday, 73 hospitalizations were added, raising the statewide total count to 12,015.

While Florida’s Department of Health is not releasing current statewide hospitalization data to the public, hospitals in Miami-Dade are self-reporting a number of key metrics, including hospitalizations, to the county, which has made this data public. Some provide updates every day; others don’t.

Fifty-two people were discharged and 50 people were admitted to Miami-Dade hospitals on Sunday, bringing the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 complications to 584 following a four-day decline, according to Miami-Dade County’s “New Normal” dashboard data.

Scientists are also still working to learn more about the virus, including how many people in the community are infected and have mild or no symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine what percentage of the cases hospitalizations represent.

COVID-19 TESTING IN FLORIDA

Testing in Florida has seen steady growth since the COVID-19 crisis began.

Testing, like hospitalizations, helps officials determine the virus’ progress and plays a role in deciding whether it is safe to lift stay-at-home orders and loosen restrictions.

The recommended number of daily tests needed varies among experts, but the dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine told the governor that Florida needs to test about 33,000 people every day. The last few days, the state has been over that mark, including the 50,406 reported in Sunday’s update.

Of the 1,409,922 people tested in Florida, 5.36% have tested positive. Another 1,184 people are awaiting results, as of Sunday. Monday’s testing data was not immediately available.

However, unlike hospitalization data that can give researchers a real-time visual on how the novel coronavirus is affecting the community, testing might be limited or take days to report results.

Health experts have previously told the Miami Herald that they were concerned the number of pending results listed by the state is an undercount. This is because Florida’s Health Department only announces the number of pending test results from state labs, not private ones — and private labs are completing more than 90% of state tests.

Previously, it has taken as long as two weeks for pending test results from private labs to be added into the state’s official count, making it difficult for officials to project the size and scale of the pandemic in the state. It’s unclear how quickly results are currently being sent to the state from private labs, as the turnaround time varies by lab.