A recent spike in COVID-19 numbers in Monroe County has prompted local health department and county officials to remind residents to not let down their guard down when it comes to wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.

As of Tuesday, there have been 2,214 reported cases in the county, including 2,168 residents, according to the Florida Department of Health. State-wide, there have been a total of 786,311 reported cases of the coronavirus, with 204 deaths.

Following a two-week period with a 7% positive test rate, Tuesday’s data from the state showed a slightly lower 6.28% rate. A 5% positivity rate or less is considered desirable.

The local health department reported 15 new cases on Tuesday, in addition to 48 cases over the weekend, although no new fatalities were noted as the total remained at 25.

Five people remained hospitalized in the Lower Keys with COVID-19.

Key West continued to lead the Keys in total positive cases with 1,028 as of Tuesday, followed by Key Largo with 288 and Marathon with 227.

Tavernier has reported 153, while Islamorada noted 56, Stock Island 54, Summerland Key 46 and Big Pine Key 39. Key Colony Beach has reported 11, Little Torch and Cudjoe Key had six each, Sugarloaf and Long Key five each, Ramrod Key four, with Rockland Key, Big Torch, Marathon Shores and Duck Key all reporting a single case.

“We are going into season and we are going to see a spike in numbers,” local health department administrator Bob Eadie said recently. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance to limit gatherings especially ones where masks are not used.”

In an abundance of caution, the Monroe County Commission meeting on Oct. 21 was moved from a hybrid meeting to virtual only. Other local governments are considering the same precautions.

Monroe County still requires facial coverings to be worn in all businesses with a few exceptions such as while sitting in a restaurant or bar to eat or drink or working out in a gym. Information on the facial covering requirements can be found at http://www.monroecountyem.com/covid19. While businesses may operate at 100% capacity, social distancing by maintaining a 6-foot separation between parties is still required.

Masks are required outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained.

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