Florida COVID-19 cases jump to 12,350 with 221 deaths

3 new deaths reported statewide

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Florida increased to 12,350, up 199 cases from Sunday morning, according to data released Sunday evening by the Florida Department of Health.

There were three additional deaths reported about 5 p.m. Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths in the state up to 221. No additional deaths were reported in counties in Northeast Florida. The most recent death in Northeast Florida was a 54-year-old man in Putnam County, which was reported Friday.

As of Sunday night, there were 413 confirmed coronavirus cases in Duval County, with nine previously reported deaths. The number of COVID-19 in Duval County went down one from Sunday morning, though it’s unclear why. The number of cases in Bradford County also went down one, with seven cases now reported. In Columbia County, 13 cases were reported -- down one.

St. Johns County now has 141 cases (up one case from Sunday morning) and two previously reported deaths. Flagler County has 31 cases (up one case) and one previously reported death. Alachua County has 123 cases (up one case). In Union County, there have been two reported cases (up one case).

There was no change in the number of cases in four Northeast Florida counties. Clay County still has 79 cases and six previously reported deaths. Putnam County has 19 cases and one previously reported death. In Nassau County, there have been 21 reported cases. And Baker County has 12 cases.

An update from the state Department of Health now allows people to now track cases across the state by ZIP code.

The department reported Florida has now tested 116,898 people for the virus.

The deaths have been heaviest in South Florida, where three counties have totaled 120 fatalities. That includes the deaths of Sgt. Jose Diaz Ayala of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday and Deputy Shannon Bennett of the Broward Sheriff’s Office on Friday.

Palm Beach County has had 49 deaths, followed by Broward County with 40 and Miami-Dade with 31.

The Department of Corrections also reported Sunday that two inmates and five staff members at a Santa Rosa County private prison have tested positive for the virus. Statewide, 26 state and private prison employees have tested positive, but the Blackwater River Correctional Facility is the only prison with inmates who have tested positive.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mario-Diaz Balart of Miami, the first member of Congress to test positive for the coronavirus, announced on Twitter that he was now rid of the disease.

“Today, after being deemed #COVID19 free by my doctor, I was able to reunite with my family in Miami. Though still a bit weak, I feel well,” Diaz-Balart said, adding that he applied to participate in a Red Cross plasma donation program to help others stricken with the illness.

Meanwhile, a Princess Cruises ship that docked in Miami on Saturday with coronavirus victims, including two fatalities, was disembarking passengers. The Coral Princess had 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members. Passengers with symptoms of the disease or recovering from it were kept on the ship until medically cleared.

Buses lined up near the cruise terminal Sunday to take passengers showing no signs of the illness to the airport, but the process was slow and the cruise line said it was further delayed by a policy the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued overnight preventing passengers from being placed on commercial flights.

“Princess Cruises continues to work tirelessly to adjust the repatriation plan to meet the new CDC requirements. This will unfortunately result in further delays in disembarkation and onward travel for many guests as we work through this complex, challenging and unfortunate situation,” the company said in a news release.

Even before the new policy was issued, the cruise line said getting passengers home would take several days.

Disembarkation was limited Sunday to passengers cleared for charter flights to California, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Also, the state’s famous beaches remained under restrictions. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order last week, but it allows exercise such as walking, running and swimming.

In Volusia County, home to Daytona Beach, officials initially closed beaches entirely, but decided Saturday to allow some activity consistent with the governor’s order. Sunbathing and sitting in chairs is prohibited, but fishing, surfing, walking, running and other physical activity are allowed if social distancing is practiced.

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