JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A total of 76,887 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Florida on Thursday, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
It’s a new one-day record for new cases in the state — slightly higher than the previous one when 75,732 cases were reported on Dec. 30.
The Florida Department of Health on Friday reported more records for new cases. The state Department of Health reported 397,114 news cases in the last week — a new record by nearly 100,000. According to the health department, Duval County recorded 14,370 new cases in the last week — a new record for the county by about 6,000 cases.
Friday’s report from the health department showed a positivity rate of 31.2% statewide and a 34.5% positivity rate for Duval County — which is a county record.
Meanwhile, as the highly contagious omicron variant surges, hospitalizations of U.S. children under 5 with COVID-19 soared in recent weeks to their highest level since the pandemic began, according to government data released Friday on the only age group not yet eligible for the vaccine.
Since mid-December, with the highly contagious omicron variant spreading furiously around the country, the hospitalization rate in these youngest kids has surged to more than 4 in 100,000 children, up from 2.5 per 100,000.
The rate among children ages 5 to 17 is about 1 per 100,000, according to the CDC data, which is drawn from over 250 hospitals in 14 states.
UF Health Jacksonville’s Dr. Chirag Patel says there’s a chance those numbers will grow.
“I think just like we saw with the delta, children’s infections and hospitalizations have lagged behind. So, if that pattern holds, we will see that increase in children, as well,” Patel said.
Doctors emphasize that children who are eligible for the vaccine should get it.
“That’s going to be a personal choice for you and your child, and between you are your child’s doctor. Ultimately, my recommendation is the benefit of getting the benefit of getting vaccinated greatly outweighs the risk,” Patel said.
Meanwhile, confusion over changing guidelines continues on a state and national level.
On Friday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended the CDC’s ever-changing guidelines, saying the message changes with the science.
“We’re in an unprecedented time with the seed of omicron cases rising and we are working really hard to get information to the American public and balancing that with the reality that we’re all living with,” Walensky said.
Also on Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended the state Department of Health’s new recommendations for testing, which prioritizes testing only for people showing symptoms of COVID-19 or high-risk individuals.
“We’re not doing any type of restriction or whatever. Just going out and testing yourself all the time if you’re not sick, there’s very little clinical value to that. If you’re talking about resources being used, that would be kind of a very low-value use of testing,” DeSantis said.
There is a huge demand for testing right now, but all of these are just guidelines.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.