JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After skipping a day of reporting for the New Year’s Day holiday, the Florida Department of Health released its first set of COVID-19 data for the new year on Saturday, showing an increase of 31,518 newly confirmed cases.
Averaged over two days, the state saw 15,579 new cases a day to start the new year -- that ranks second behind Florida’s largest single-day increase of 17,192 cases reported on New Year’s Eve.
The highest one-day increase Florida had seen before this week was 15,300 cases on July 12 -- in the midst of the state’s summer spike.
The state has also chosen not to report COVID-19 cases on two other holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Since March 1, there have been 1,354,833 residents and people visiting the state diagnosed with COVID-19.
Of those, 323,996 were reported just in December -- accounting for nearly a quarter (24.5%) of the state’s cases over the last 10 months.
Duval County added 1,567 cases of coronavirus in Saturday’s data, bringing Jacksonville to 62,888 total cases since the pandemic began.
There were 217 additional deaths in Florida reported Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 22,210. Twenty-six of those were in Northeast Florida: 14 in Duval County (739 total), four in Alachua County (133), and two each in Clay (188), Columbia (119), Putnam (74) and St. Johns (115).
On Thursday, state health officials disclosed in a statement tweeted on its HealthyFla site that evidence of a new and apparently more contagious coronavirus strain first seen in England has been detected in a Martin County man with no recent travel history.
The state offered no new updates on the man or his condition.
Other cases of the new strain have been reported in Colorado and California.
Martin County is north of Palm Beach County, which along with Miami-Dade and Broward counties have been the state’s hardest hit region in dealing with coronavirus cases.
There were 6,701 people hospitalized in the state Saturday afternoon with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19, up 338 from the previous report. That included 440 in Duval, 109 in Clay and 187 in Alachua County, according to the state database.
During the virus surge last summer, the number of hospitalizations reached nearly 10,000. The numbers had fallen to about 2,000 in October and early November.
According to the state’s vaccination dashboard: 12,330 first doses were administered Thursday and Friday, bringing the total in the state to 243,107. Vaccines were given Tuesday to the first senior citizens not in long-term care facilities, and some Northeast Florida counties have begun scheduling appointments to administer vaccines to those 65 years and older in their communities.
St. Johns County has begun vaccinating those 65 years and older and medical workers without an appointment, but supplies are limited.