JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging more masking for people in some areas of the country where COVID-19 is surging again.
As for what’s happening in Jacksonville, there will be an update on Friday when the Florida Department of Health releases new numbers.
But there are updates each day on the number of new cases statewide that are reported to the CDC.
Following Florida’s latest report of new cases to the CDC, the state is now averaging nearly 8,000 new cases a day. The average over the last seven days is 7,909. The last time the state’s average was this high was mid-February, as the state was coming down from the winter omicron peak.
As cases rise statewide, Jacksonville hospitals say they’re seeing a slight increase in the number of patients with COVID-19.
On Thursday, News4JAX spoke with staff from hospitals and people at testing sites. No one locally is calling for a mask mandate, but they see an increase in cases.
Jeff Cretella was at the only state-run testing site still open in Jacksonville. It’s in the Brentwood area on the Northside. He went to the site because he recently returned from a wedding in Connecticut where there is a surge in COVID-19 cases and many of the guests became sick. He took an at-home test, but the results varied
“So I tested negative on Tuesday, and then yesterday, I tested positive in the morning, but then last night I tested negative,” Cretella said. “So who knows if these tests even work, so that’s why I just want to make sure.”
And while the state only has one testing site left, Agape Health is running two other sites for the city. Mia Jones. who oversees those sites, says while testing is down, more are coming back positive -- not only at their sites, but they’re learning of more cases in schools.
“We have been notified that a number of our schools are high schools and middle schools are reporting more and more cases. And because they are reporting more additional cases, we know that there is an uptick in positive. We see it in the ones that do take the time and come and get a PCR test versus using the home test,” Jones said. “But we have to make sure people understand it is not over.”
And that is what some local hospitals are saying, as well.
On Thursday, at Baptist Health’s five facilities, there were 29 COVID-19 cases, five of which were being treated in the intensive care unit. At UF Health’s two locations, there were 15 patients, three of whom were in the ICU
Chad Neilsen, UF Health director of infection prevention, says there is a slight uptick, but the outcomes are better than in the past.
“Well at least locally, the number of individuals dying due to COVID-19 primary infection is very, very low,” Neilsen said. “The individuals that we are seeing in the First Coast area who are succumbing to COVID-19 tend to be secondary cases of COVID-19, so it’s not their primary cause of death.”
Because of this slight increase, Neilsen says those with ongoing health issues should consider masking up again.
So while the numbers do not appear to be dramatic in the Jacksonville area, health officials are expecting them to continue to go up even more before leveling off again.