Spike in COVID-19 cases can be traced to more people going out, not acting responsibly, researcher says

ORLANDO, Fla. — The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Orange County and the rest of the state could be traced back to more people being out and about as places reopen.

See our in-depth coverage below:

The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday reported 2,783 new cases of COVID-19 statewide since Monday, bringing the total to 80,109 cases.

The agency also reported 55 new deaths statewide since Monday, bringing the virus' death toll to 2,993 people.

Read: Coronavirus checklist: 100-plus disinfectants that may kill coronavirus on surfaces

The agency said three of those deaths were reported in Central Florida -- one each in Orange, Brevard and Volusia counties.

See a county-by-county breakdown of cases below, and click here for an interactive map of cases statewide.

• Orange: 3,437 (155 new cases since Monday)

• Polk: 1,566 (57 new cases since Monday)

• Volusia: 969 (23 new cases since Monday)

• Osceola: 866 (18 new cases since Monday)

• Seminole: 836 (46 new cases since Monday)

• Brevard: 608 (43 new cases since Monday)

• Lake: 498 (16 new cases since Monday)

• Marion: 325 (10 new cases since Monday)

• Sumter: 268 (one new case since Monday)

• Flagler: 208 (one new cases since Monday)

INTERACTIVE MAP: Coronavirus cases in Florida

Retired statistical researcher Eric Solomon said increased testing would contribute to an uptick in cases, but added: “I don’t think it’s the whole story.”

He independently analyzed the state’s data.

In mid-May, when most of Florida entered into full Phase 1 reopening, “the number of testing that’s going on has increased tremendously, but we’re not seeing a corresponding response in the number of cases we’re finding of the coronavirus,” Solomon said.

Testing and cases increased starting with Phase 2 in the beginning of June.

“When you take a look, the number of tests has leveled off and the number of cases are soaring,” Solomon said. “So there’s more to it than the current state of testing.

Solomon said we are “absolutely” seeing a spike in cases because more people are going out and more things are reopening.

“It’s not just because we’re reopening – it’s (because) we’re reopening and people are not acting responsibly. People are getting increasingly more bold about their behaviors.”

Orange County has added more than 100 new cases each day for the last six days, the highest being Monday with 186 cases.

The mayor said many of those new infections were traced back to bars and nightclubs.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday afternoon that cases are increasing because more people with and without symptoms are being tested for the virus.

“We really expanded the drive-thru and walk-up sites,” he said. “Now, we have pop up sites at retail locations. That’s thousands and thousands (of people being tested) a day. You have the hospitals -- (people) going in for something not (COVID-19 related). You’re still being tested for (COVID-19).”

The state had been in the 3% range, but is now in the 4.9% range, DeSantis said.

Read: ‘Doing nothing is not an option’: Orange County mayor urges residents wear masks after Orange County, state sees uptick in COVID-19 cases

He said the uptick is because the state is testing more people and targeting places such as prisons and nursing homes, which officials recognize as high-risk environments.

“If it gets going, it can definitely spread,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said there were several cases of the virus at a Central Florida airport that led to almost 500 employees being tested -- 260 of whom tested positive. He did not specify which airport.

He also mentioned an outbreak at the Lake County Jail, where 160 staff members and inmates were tested -- 100 tests of which came back positive. Click here to read more about that.

Read: Lake County Jail ramps up coronavirus response after 57 test positive for virus

DeSantis said there have also been outbreaks among migrant workers at farms across the state.

Watch Gov. DeSantis’ full news conference below:

Click here to read more coverage on the pandemic.

Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV in 2014.