12 more COVID-19 related deaths reported in Jacksonville

17 deaths across 5 Northeast Florida counties among 180 additional coronavirus-related deaths in Florida

Samples are tested for respiratory viruses during a visit by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to the pathology labs at Leeds General Infirmary on March 12. (Photo by Danny Lawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville reported a dozen more coronavirus-related deaths in data released Friday from the Florida Department of Health, bringing Duval County’s total to 177 deaths since the pandemic began.

Another five deaths were reported across four other Northeast Florida counties on Friday. (Note: Most of the deaths included in each day’s FDOH data had not actually died in the past 24 hours as deaths often take days to be reported.)

Statewide, 180 additional deaths related to COVID-19 were reported, bringing Florida’s total to 8,051 deaths of residents and visitors since the state began tracking coronavirus cases in March.

Overall case totals are down from their peaks in July, and Friday marked the 13th day in a row that fewer than 10,000 newly recorded cases were reported in Florida.

The state added 7,686 cases on Friday to reach a total of 518,075. While the state is trending down overall in the daily increase in cases, Baker County has seen a major spike with a record 102 more cases reported Friday to bring the county’s total to 630. More than 41% of those (259) have been reported this week (Sunday-Friday) but a good portion of those seem to be connected to an outbreak at the Baker Correctional Institution.

Of the 12 deaths added in Duval County, the youngest was a 33-year-old woman and the oldest was an 84-year-old woman. In Putnam County, two men in their 80s died, a 96-year-old man died in St. Johns County, a 98-year-old woman died in Columbia County and an 87-year-old man died in Alachua County.

Florida does not disclose if patients who died related to the virus had underlying health conditions.

The rate of positive COVID-19 tests -- considered a measure of active infection spreading in the community -- ticked up statewide to 10.12% and rose in several local counties on Thursday, including Duval (9.1%), Clay (12.8%), Putnam (10.3%) and Baker (28.2%)

Epidemiologist Jonathan Kantor says a 14-day average with declining numbers will be a real indicator that Florida is flattening the curve.

While the state has yet to see such flattening, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the elderly and their families have paid a heavy emotional and mental toll because of the isolation required to protect the state’s most vulnerable residents who are living at long-term care facilities.

DeSantis announced a task force this week that will explore how to safely allow visitation at the facilities, which have been closed to visitors since mid-March.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to not only protect folks from the virus abut also address some of the serious emotional damage that has been done by our countermeasures to the virus,” DeSantis said Tuesday at a roundtable discussion at ElderSource in Jacksonville.

Daily COVID-19 cases reported in Florida, Jacksonville

Elsewhere, DeSantis this week announced that quicker antigen testing, with results in about 15 minutes, would be offered at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens and at Marlins Park.

“Obviously if you are somebody that is symptomatic and you don’t get your result back for 7 days that is not helpful. For asymptomatic test takers, if it takes 7 days then the test is basically useless at that time,” DeSantis said at a news conference.

The antigen tests reveal whether someone is currently infected with COVID-19. The site is offering these tests to children between 5 and 17, and for anyone 65 and up, regardless of symptoms. Anyone in the 18 to 65 age group who is experiencing symptoms can also be tested at the site, which also has self-swab testing for those 18 to 64 who aren’t experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, according to officials.

Antigen testing reveals whether a person is currently infected with COVID-19. It differs from antibody testing because once the infection is gone, antigens won’t be present.