JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville recorded its 20th coronavirus-related death and saw its cases top 1,000 on Tuesday morning as officials make plans to reopen the city.
The latest death in Duval County was Troy Sneed, a Grammy-nominated gospel singer whose publicist said he died Monday at a Jacksonville hospital. The 52-year-old had no travel history or contact with a known case of COVID-19, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Sneed and the first two people to die of the respiratory illness in Columbia County were among 83 new deaths reported throughout Florida over the past 24 hours, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,171.
As of Tuesday, 32,846 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida including 5,222 people who have been hospitalized. Those represent increases of 708 positive tests and 212 hospitalizations compared to Monday’s totals. It remains unclear how many people have gotten better since the state does not provide recovery data.
In Northeast Florida, a total of 2,145 cases and 50 deaths have been confirmed across 11 counties. With 1,001 cases and now 20 deaths, Duval County remains the hardest hit. Despite having 700-plus fewer cases, Clay County has recorded 14 deaths.
Two men, ages 31 and 63, were the first Columbia County patients to die of COVID-19, according to the Department of Health. The younger man’s case was not related to travel or contact with a coronavirus patient, while the origin of the other man’s infection is not yet known.
Over 367,000 tests have been administered across Florida since early March, according to the health department. The vast majority (90.9%) of results (90.9%) have come back negative. Another 560 are inconclusive and 1,216 more are still pending.
The new data comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis prepares to roll out the next steps for Florida’s economic recovery. DeSantis, who met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday, is expected to announce plans on Wednesday to reopen the state based on recommendations from business and government leaders.
In Northeast Florida, that process has already begun. On Tuesday, Mayor Lenny Curry announced that on Monday he will expand beach hours from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for exercise and outdoor activities. He also said he will lift an executive order that banned hotels from accepting reservations from non-essential lodgers.
The mayor did not go into detail about the timeline for various businesses to reopen. He said his office has been in touch with the governor’s office, and his goal is to release more concrete details by the end of the week. Some businesses, he noted, may take longer to reopen than others.
“It’s my goal to have some back next week," Curry said.
The mayor also signed a financial relief bill that will, among other things, provide one-time, $1,000 payments to Jacksonville residents hit hardest financially by the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.