Coronavirus: Northeast Florida sees 3 more deaths

46 new deaths reported Friday as Florida reaches 34,728 total cases

A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation on Feb. 28. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Duval County patients and another patient in Clay County are among the latest coronavirus-related deaths recorded in Florida.

Those three cases represent the 21st and 22nd deaths counted in Duval County and the 16th death in Clay County, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Forty-six new deaths were reported Friday, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,314.

The Duval County patients who died are two men, ages 51 and 97. The older man’s case is not linked to travel or contact with a known case and the source of the 51-year-old’s infection is unclear.

Clay County’s latest death is a 44-year-old man, whose infection was not related to travel or contact with an existing case.

In Northeast Florida, a total of 2,221 cases and 57 deaths have been recorded across 11 counties. Of those counties, Duval has the most cases (1,025) and deaths (22), trailed by Clay’s 276 cases and 16 deaths.

It is worth noting that Duval County’s infection rate (4.2 percent) is less than half of Florida’s average (8.6 percent), despite Jacksonville being the state’s largest city.

Excluding Flagler County (8.6 percent), infection rates across the region hover below the statewide average.

County-by-county coronavirus cases

As of Friday, 34,728 people in Florida have tested positive for COVID-19 including 5,767 who have been hospitalized with the illness at some point. That’s an increase of 1,038 new positive tests and 178 hospitalizations since Thursday morning.

It remains unclear how many people have gotten better since initially testing positive as the state does not provide recovery data.

More than 403,000 tests have been taken in Florida since early March, according to the health department. The vast majority (91 percent) of those results have come back negative. Another 561 were inconclusive and 1,207 more are still pending.

The latest data comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis prepares to reopen retail stores, restaurants and state parks on Monday as part of the first phase of his plan to revive the state economy.

Appearing Friday at Little Talbot State Park in Duval County to announce his decision to reopen state parks, DeSantis encouraged Floridians to go outside while complying with social distancing guidelines.

“People can go out, they can get sunlight, they can get fresh air," he said. “It’s good for peace of mind."