Florida Department of Health starting to track COVID-19 cases at day cares for the first time since pandemic began

A month after the Florida Department of Health told Channel 9 it was not tracking COVID-19 cases tied to day cares in the state, the department said it has changed its mind.

9 Investigates first started hearing about positive cases among students and staff members at various child care centers in July, but the state said it didn’t have any concrete data from day cares because the department wasn’t actively tracking the information.

In an email, the department referred is to the Department of Children and Families, saying, “these questions are best suited for the Department of Children and Families. While the Department of Health tracks and investigates every case of COVID-19, we don’t not maintain a list of day cares with positive cases.”

READ: Florida health department says they’re not keeping list of day cares with COVID-19 outbreaks

Channel 9 followed up with the department this week after receiving a tip that it was now working to track cases at child care centers and schools. A spokesperson told us in an email that the department is now tracking day care cases via contact tracing.

“The school and day cares surveillance reports were in draft form and these draft reports were inadvertently made available on a website, but not yet finalized,” the spokesperson said.

READ: How Central Florida day cares are being impacted by COVID-19

So far, the preliminary data shows that between March 1 and Aug. 23, there have been 1,642 positive cases at day cares alone among children and staff members. The majority of those cases were linked to staff, according to the preliminary data.

A closer look at the last two weeks of preliminary data show that the numbers have gone down drastically with anywhere from two to 22 reported each day.

Since March though, a majority of the positive COVID-19 cases were in children who identify as white or Hispanic between ages 1 and 10 years old.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.