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Florida reports 3 more COVID-19 deaths in Jacksonville; 112 cases in prison spike Columbia County number

A health care worker administers a COVID-19 test at a site sponsored by Community Heath of South Florida in Homestead, Fla.
A health care worker administers a COVID-19 test at a site sponsored by Community Heath of South Florida in Homestead, Fla. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s Department of Health reported 12,624 new cases of coronavirus on Monday -- down from Sunday’s record peak but the second-highest daily increase in the state.

Most area counties are well off their record per-day increases, but Columbia County added 114 -- a 24.6% increase in 24 hours. Columbia County’s Health Department reported 112 of those cases came from Columbia Correctional and there was not a jump in infections among the residents of the county.

The state now reports 282,435 cases -- that’s double the number from June 28, just 15 days ago.

Three of the 35 Floridians whose deaths were attributed to COVID-19 in Monday’s data were from Jacksonville, bringing Duval County’s total to 84. The deaths were of an 86-year-old woman and two men, ages 78 and 93.

Since the pandemic reached Florida, 4,381 Florida residents and visitors to the state have died with the virus.

The state on Monday reported 277 new hospitalization admissions in 24 hours, bringing the total number of Florida residents who have been hospitalized since the coronavirus pandemic began to 18,498.

Helen Ferre, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, said Sunday that the state has tested more than 2.4 million people for COVID-19.

Florida’s positive testing rate on Sunday was 11.5%, while the percentage of tests that came back positive in Duval County was 11.2%. Columbia County’s positive rate from Sunday was 19.8%.

“The more people who get tested and are proportionately reporting negative for this virus is meaningful,” Ferre wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Testing has doubled over the last month, going from about 25,000 tests per day to more than 50,000, but the percentage of people testing positive has risen even more dramatically. A month ago, fewer than 5% of tests came up positive on a daily average. Over the past week, the daily average topped 19%.

“I still think we need to increase our testing a little bit more,” said University of Florida epidemiologist Dr. Cindy Prins, adding that the state and local health departments should ramp up their contact tracing.

Prins said that she’s still concerned about large crowds, gyms and some restaurants as being places of mass transmission. Reports of illegal clubs and raves in South Florida is also a worry, she said.

“I really do think we could control this, and it’s the human element that is so critical. It should be an effort of our country. We should be pulling together when we’re in a crisis, and we’re definitely not doing it,” she said. “I know people want to live their lives. There have been a lot of other times, people have made those sacrifices in order to benefit our society. It’s almost like a war effort. That’s what we need right now.”

Throughout May and into June, the state reopened much of its economy with some restrictions -- and the number of positive cases began rising, but it wasn’t until the last week that the daily death total began rising, too.

Because of the increase in cases and the positivity rate, doctors have predicted a rise in deaths, saying the mortality rate usually increases two to four weeks later as some of those infected get sicker and eventually die. Health experts are concerned that people are gathering in crowds, and have expressed concern that the Republican National Convention’s nomination party for President Donald Trump will be held in Jacksonville in August.

On Saturday, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened at Walt Disney World in Orlando, concerning health experts who urge people not to gather in groups. Guests at the park said that people were wearing masks and social distancing, and videos showed near-empty parks.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that even with the rising rates, he still wants the schools to reopen as scheduled next month, saying children have not proven to be vectors for the disease in states and countries where campuses are open. He said while each county will have to come up with procedures, depending on their local infection rate, not opening the schools would exacerbate the achievement gap between high- and low-performing students.Throughout May and into June, the state reopened much of its economy with some restrictions — and the number of positive cases began rising, but it wasn’t until the last week that the daily death total began rising, too.

Because of the increase in cases and the positivity rate, doctors have predicted a rise in deaths, saying the mortality rate usually increases two to four weeks later as some of those infected get sicker and eventually die. Health experts are concerned that people are gathering in crowds, and have expressed concern that the Republican National Convention’s nomination party for President Donald Trump will be held in Jacksonville in August.

On Saturday, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened at Walt Disney World in Orlando, concerning health experts who urge people not to gather in groups. Guests at the park said that people were wearing masks and social distancing, and videos showed near-empty parks.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that even with the rising rates, he still wants the schools to reopen as scheduled next month, saying children have not proven to be vectors for the disease in states and countries where campuses are open. He said while each county will have to come up with procedures, depending on their local infection rate, not opening the schools would exacerbate the achievement gap between high- and low-performing students.On June 29, Jacksonville Mayor Curry issued a face mask mandate for Jacksonville, requiring people to wear masks indoors when they can’t socially distance.

Jacksonville added three new federal testing sites at locations across the city Wednesday. The sites were opened because Jacksonville has been designated a “surge site” by the federal government, and DeSantis said the new sites will help identify areas of concern.

RELATED: Walk-up testing now available at Regency Square Mall site

This week, the city will open three testing sites of its own located in Arlington, Mandarin and the Beaches communities.

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