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Florida tops 200,000 cases of COVID

State and area counties continue to add cases at rates that trouble health officials

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a daily record number of new cases in Florida reported on Saturday, the Department of Health shows the state’s caseload grew to 200,111 on Sunday.

There were 10,059 positive tests in Sunday’s report -- not a record but the state has averaged more than 10,000 cases for four days and over 8,600 over the last 10 days. These are numbers exponentially higher than daily case growth seen in March and April when Florida began locking down to slow the spread of COVID-19.

An additional 29 people in the state have died, bringing that total to 3,823. None of those deaths were in Northeast Florida. Florida’s death count is the ninth highest in the country overall and the 27th highest per capita at 17.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

There were 451.9 new reported cases per 100,000 people in Florida over the past two weeks, which ranks second in the country for new cases per capita.

New cases each day in Florida and Duval County

Local case counts continued to rise at some of the highest rates since pandemic tracking began in the state at the beginning of March.

Duval County added 523 COVID-19 positives in the latest report, bringing the total to 9,146. That was not close to a daily record, but 16.9% of 3,145 tests that came back on Saturday were positive -- the highest rate ever and four times the rate of positives the county was averaging 30 days ago.

Alachua County added 72 cases in the last 24 hours, St. Johns County saw an additional 66 cases, Clay County added 55. Most notably, there were 36 new cases in Nassau County -- an 11% jump in one day in a county that has been less afflicted than most by COVID-19.

Local officials and health experts were worried that people gathering at Independence Day events might spread the virus through close contact.

Gov. Ron DeSantis tried to mitigate the spread by shutting bars statewide a few weeks after they were reopened. Some regional attractions, such as Zoo Miami and Jungle Island, have closed. Universal Studios in Orlando is open. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are set to reopen next Saturday for the first time since coronavirus-related closures in March.

About 43% of the cases are in three counties: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez closed Miami-Dade County beaches through the July 4 holiday weekend. Municipalities elsewhere in South Florida, from Vero Beach to Broward County, did the same. Beaches in the Florida Keys are also closed. All beaches in Northeast Florida remained open as did those in Pinellas County and along much of the Gulf Coast.

Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, an epidemiologist at Florida International University, said she is glad that some officials are mandating masks and hoped that Floridians would be cautious over the Fourth of July weekend.

“I think we are going to be in a very difficult situation for at least a month,‘' she said. ``The behavior of people this (weekend) will be very critical. People really have to avoid congregating in groups and be sure to wear masks.‘'

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