Florida adds more than 9,300 new COVID-19 cases, 78 additional deaths

Additional deaths reported in Northeast Florida includes 33-year-old woman in Duval County

FILE - James Robson, a biomedical engineering graduate student, holds a swab and specimen vial in the new COVID-19, on-campus testing lab, Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Boston University in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Charles Krupa, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 9,300 new coronavirus cases were reported Sunday in Florida, accompanied by an additional 78 deaths, according to data released by the state Department of Health.

The total number of deaths in Duval County increased to 139 -- up one from Saturday. But the state data listed two newly-identified deaths in the county -- a 93-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman, who is the youngest Florida resident in Duval County to die from coronavirus complications.

Alachua County recorded two more deaths -- a 66-year-old woman and an 86-year-old man -- for a total of 20 deaths.

The 11 Northeast Florida counties tracked by News4Jax (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns and Union) have reported 275 deaths among them since the pandemic began. Both the region and Duval County saw single-day records on Saturday.

As of Sunday, the state had 5,972 total deaths of residents and visitors and 423,855 coronavirus cases, an additional 9,344 cases from the previous day, according to the Florida Department of Health. (The 78 additional deaths reported Sunday in the state 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.)

The number of new cases was lower than other days last week, but caseloads released on Sundays tend to be smaller because of the lack of workers entering data or in labs testing samples.

The statewide median age of coronavirus patients in Florida was 40, the health department said.

On Sunday, Duval County had 465 additional cases reported for a total of 19,753. In Alachua County, 94 more cases were recorded for a total of 3,144. In Union County, 29 additional cases were recorded -- a single-day high for the county in the last month -- to bring the county’s caseload to 212.

Almost 3.4 million Floridians have been tested for the virus. According to state data released Sunday, Florida’s positive testing rate on Saturday was 11.06% -- down from 11.41% on Friday -- while the percentage of tests that came back positive in Duval County on Saturday was 8.6% -- up from 8% on Friday.

Of the Florida residents who have been confirmed to have COVID-19, 24,064 patients have been hospitalized across the state since the Department of Health began tracking data in March. That number includes 334 new hospitalizations reported statewide since Saturday. The state does not report a number of patients who have recovered.

On Saturday, Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, said he planned to start setting up meetings with owners of bars and breweries across the state later this week to discuss how they can reopen without spreading the virus.

Late last month, Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars, for the second time this year, in response to a spike in the number of coronavirus cases.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declined to close gyms again, saying people should have the chance to stay healthy.

Amid the ongoing rise in cases in Florida and Jacksonville, President Donald Trump announced Thursday night that he was calling off the Jacksonville portion of the Republican National Convention because he didn’t want to send the wrong message by hosting a large gathering.

“There’s nothing more important than keeping the American people safe,” Trump said. “I want to thank the Jacksonville community and all of the other political representatives. They were there for us 100%.”

Jacksonville had been given only a short window of opportunity to prepare after the RNC, which was abruptly pulled from its original venue in Charlotte over a dispute about coronavirus prevention efforts.

Many school districts are grappling with the challenge of finding ways to safely reopen this fall despite the ongoing spike in cases, and many are pushing back their start dates to allow more preparation.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said during an address Wednesday on school reopenings that parents should all have a choice between sending their children physically back to schools in the fall or opting for distance learning.

“The evidence that schools can be open in a safe way is overwhelming,” DeSantis said. “Yet I also understand the apprehension that some parents may feel, and I believe in empowering them with a choice. No parent should be required to send their child to in-person instruction if they don’t want to.”

Earlier this month, 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.