JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Any hope Florida and Jacksonville-area counties had passed their peaks of new coronavirus cases was shattered Thursday when the Department of Health released its daily report.
Florida added 10,109 cases, well above its record set on Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 169,106. There were 68 additional COVID-19 deaths reported in Florida in that last 24 hours.
The state also reported more than 60 deaths Thursday for the second time in a week, as the seven-day average for daily fatalities is now back over 40, a 30% increase from two weeks ago. The state’s death rate peaked at 60 per day in early May, but had declined to 30 by June 1 before it began creeping up two weeks ago as case numbers began spiking.
Duval County added 767 new cases -- more than double the daily cases added the last couple of days and just three off its record set just four days ago.
There were also four new deaths in the county, bringing Jacksonville to 68 fatalities attributed to the virus.
Clay, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns County all set daily records for new cases and St. Johns reported one additional death, bringing their total to eight.
St. Johns added 99 additional cases, bringing its total to 1,088. Clay County added 72, for a total of 801. Putnam County added 52 for a new count of 433. Nassau County had 29 additional cases for a total of 225.
Alachua County added 87, which is not a record for them but brings its total to 1,332.
The total number of Jacksonville residents diagnosed with COVID-19 has been slowly building since early March and has risen faster than the state average.
Testing numbers are way up, with long lines and wait times at Jacksonville’s largest drive-up and walk-up sites. The daily rate of positive tests in Duval County stayed below 5% throughout the month of May but has averaged 10% or above since mid-June and was 15.4% on Wednesday.
New hospitalizations and deaths are also ticking upward in Florida, although not as dramatically as the new cases.
On Monday, Mayor Lenny Curry announced a mandatory face mask mandate for Duval County, reversing course from previous statements that it wouldn’t be “prudent” to require people to wear face masks. So far, Gov. DeSantis has said such a requirement is not necessary statewide but he strongly encouraging face coverings when social distancing is not possible.
State officials on Friday announced a ban on alcohol consumption at bars, and DeSantis explained Sunday there was “widespread noncompliance” in those businesses, saying they “tossed aside” safety guidelines. Several restaurants were shut down over the weekend in Broward County for not following rules restricting capacity and mandating the use of masks.
Jacksonville was the first community in Florida to reopen its beaches (April 17) and restaurants and non-essential businesses outside of South Florida were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity when the state entered Phase 2 on May 15. Bars and nightclubs were allowed to open with restrictions on June 5.
Beaches in Miami-Dade County, the hardest-hit, only reopened on June 10.
Vice President Mike Pence and DeSantis are scheduled to visit a medical training center at the University of South Florida in Tampa on Thursday afternoon and meet with reporters to discuss the coronavirus situation. The visit came after Pence canceled a campaign “Faith In America” tour in Florida and other states because of recent spikes in cases.
DeSantis said he worried that younger people who live with older relatives may infect those in groups who can get more severely ill with COVID-19. Numbers are showing that since the spike in cases began to show.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.