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Jacksonville COVID-19 cases surge by more than 150% since July 1

Duval County passes 15,600 reported cases of coronavirus, according to Friday's state data

People wait in line at a walk-up testing site for COVID-19 during the new coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
People wait in line at a walk-up testing site for COVID-19 during the new coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – According to data released Friday from the Florida Department of Health, Duval County has now reported 15,641 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

That’s an increase of over 150% in just over two weeks. As of June 30, Jacksonville had reported 6,207 cases.

Duval County also reported four additional deaths in Friday’s data, bringing Jacksonville’s total to 93 deaths related to COVID-19. Putnam and St. Johns counties reported one additional death each.

According to Friday’s state data, an additional 130 coronavirus-related deaths were reported statewide for residents and visitors, bringing the total to 4,912 reported deaths since the pandemic began. The deaths did not all occur in the last 24 hours. The state’s death data often have significant delays in reporting and some of the deaths may have occurred weeks ago.

Statewide, Florida reported 11,466 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 327,241. (At some point overnight the state dashboard reduced Thursday’s original total to 315,693, but News4Jax tracks data by the daily PDFs the state releases on its website for consistency: Thursday’s PDF | Friday’s PDF)

So far for the month of July, Florida has reported 174,807 cases in just over two weeks, averaging over 10,282 cases a day. Florida’s single-day record for new cases, reported Sunday, remains at 15,300.

Of those who have been confirmed to have COVID-19 in the state, 20,191 patients have been hospitalized across the state since Florida began tracking data in March.

The four additional deaths reported in Duval County included three men -- ages 73, 77 and 91 -- and one woman, aged 72. It’s unknown if any of them had contact with a known coronavirus case.

A 61-year-old man died in Putnam County and a 37-year-old man died in St. Johns County. Neither of them had contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

As the spike in cases continues across the state, many school districts are grappling with the challenge of finding ways to safely reopen this fall.

During a Wednesday afternoon news conference from the Florida Capitol, Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke about the hot button issue of reopening schools.

A little over a week ago, Richard Corcoran, the state’s education commissioner, issued an order for all schools to reopen for in-person classes during the fall. The order also instructs school districts to follow the advice of state and local health officials as well as executive orders issued by DeSantis.

“I know a lot of parents are have a lot of anxiety about just the situation, generally, and then of course, what’s going to happen with the school year,” DeSantis said during the news conference. “For me, I think one of the core principles is your parents need to have the ability to offer the type of learning that they think is important, if they’re comfortable in a distance learning environment, they obviously need to have that choice.”

Also amid surging cases, the Republican National Convention slated for late August in Jacksonville has opted to scale back.

Rather than the 15,000 people originally scheduled to attend the event in Jacksonville next month, the communications director of the Republican National Convention announced Thursday that only about 2,500 people -- mostly the regular delegates -- will attend the first three days of the event, Aug. 24-26. On the final night, Thursday, Aug. 27, delegates and alternates can attend with one guest as Trump delivers his acceptance speech.

Convention planners also acknowledged that some convention events will take place outdoors.

The state’s economic future continues to remain clouded by the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases, as evidenced by this week’s showing that jobless claims almost doubled last week from the previous week, economists said.

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 10.4% in June from the previous month’s 13.7% rate as the state’s theme parks, beaches and other tourism-related businesses started reopening after weeks of coronavirus-related lockdowns, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday.

Additionally, a host of large hotels have said that they are turning temporary furloughs from March into permanent layoffs at the end of July.

“Many businesses, particularly in South Florida, are facing a reduced demand and a lot of uncertainty due to the new surge in Covid-19 cases,” said Hector Sandoval, an economist at the University of Florida. “There are several companies in the accommodation and food services industry still announcing layoffs.”

Year-over-year, the hospitality industry has lost about 1 in 5 jobs in Florida, or 268,400 positions, the hardest hit industry in the state.

Florida gained 296,000 jobs from June to May.

In June, there were more than 1 million jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9.7 million workers.

The only industry gaining jobs over the year was construction with an additional 4,600 positions added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.