JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The trend lines for coronavirus cases in Florida and around greater Jacksonville are still way too high and predicted to stay there for the near future.
The string of near-record days of new cases that began more than two weeks ago continued Wednesday with the Department of Health reporting 6,563 additional cases in Florida and 50 more deaths. Over the last seven days, the state has averaged a 7,140 daily increase.
Duval County added 273 cases — bringing the total to 6,480. Alachua County added 48 cases in one day, Putnam County saw an increase of 42, St. Johns added 41, Clay had 16 new cases, Nassau added 14 and Baker and Columbia each had one more.
No deaths in Northeast Florida counties were added in the past 24 hours.
The state’s surge of new positive cases began in mid-June and continued rising to a peak of 9,585 on Saturday. Jacksonville peaked Sunday at 740. The total number of Duval County residents diagnosed with COVID-19 that has been slowly building since early March doubled since June 21 and has risen faster than the state average. Florida has doubled its total cases since June 13.
Testing numbers are way up, with long lines and wait times at Jacksonville’s largest drive-up and walk-up sites. The daily rate of positive tests in Duval County stayed below 5% throughout the month of May but has averaged 10% or above since mid-June. It was 12.9% on Tuesday.
New hospitalizations and deaths are also ticking upward in Florida, although not as dramatically as the new cases. New admissions this week have been between 160 and 170 per day, according to figures compiled by covidtracking.com.
Jacksonville was the first community in Florida to reopen its beaches (April 17) and restaurants and non-essential businesses outside of South Florida were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity when the state entered Phase 2 on May 15. Bars and nightclubs were allowed to open with restrictions on June 5.
Beaches in Miami-Dade County, the hardest-hit, only reopened on June 10.
Many of the new cases are among younger adults and attributed to relaxed socializing in parties and bars, where alcohol consumption was banned starting last week to stop the virus’ spread. When these patients wind up in hospital beds, their conditions are less acute than those of people infected during the deadliest phase of the state’s outbreak.
Still, there are concerns that more vulnerable people will be exposed as Florida continues to jump-start its economy with theme park reopenings, major sports events and the Republican presidential nomination celebration in Jacksonville.
In every crowd, there will be asymptomatic people, many of them refusing to wear masks and seeding infections that will prompt more severe illnesses in the weeks ahead, experts say.
“Any time you have these reopenings, you’re depending on people do to the right things, to follow the rules. I think that’s where the weak spots come in,‘’ said Dr. Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist and medical professor at the University of Florida.
She warned that things are likely to get worse before they get better.
“We’re a couple of weeks late to the game of really being able to get this under control,‘’ Prins said.
Source: NEWS 4 JAX