JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health on Monday reported 93 additional coronavirus deaths, bringing the state’s total to 8,408 since the pandemic began. That includes 8,277 Florida residents and 131 non-residents.
Among the deaths reported in Northeast Florida, a 70-year-old Duval County woman, 97 and 90-year-old women in St. Johns County and a 72-year-old man in Putnam County. On Sunday, there were no local deaths reported for the first time since July 5.
Still, the average number of deaths reported in the state over the last seven days is 161.
Overall, Florida added 4,155 new COVID-19 cases Monday for a statewide total of 536,961, the smallest single-day amount of new cases since June 23.
In Duval County, 93 new cases were recorded Monday. The rate of positive COVID-19 tests — considered a measure of active infection spreading in the community — that came back Monday slightly decreased to 5.5% in the county while the state’s positivity rate ticked up to 8.60%. It is the first time the state has reported back-to-back days below 9% since June 14-15.
It was also the first time since June 17 that Duval County added fewer than 100 cases, though it’s worth noting there is often a dip in new cases reported on Monday.
Alachua, St. Johns and Clay counties reported low increases in cases compared to recent weeks.
Daily COVID-19 cases reported in Florida, Jacksonville
Chad Nielsen, an infection prevention specialist at UF Health, said the important number to watch is the percentage of positive people compared to those being tested.
He believes that offers a true picture of what is happening. He says right now it is trending down and that is good.
At UF Health and Baptist Health, officials said Monday they are watching as the number of cases at hospital is slightly declining. One trend doctors at both facilities say are happening is patients being admitted for COVID-19 are older and staying longer.
News4Jax also spoke to several people being tested on Monday at the Legends Center in Northwest Jacksonville.
Lazar Cowan, a truck driver, who had already tested positive last month was going back for a follow-up test. He spoke about what it was like to find out he was positive with COVID-19.
“It was scary at first because my first seven days I didn’t know if I was going to live or not. It was bad,” Cowan said.
After a week, Cowan said he then started to feel better and began taking steps like eating better and drinking electrolytes. Cowan said he is not sure where he contracted the virus but believes it happened while he was on the road making deliveries.
“Get tested and keep your social distancing and pray‚” Cowan said. “It’s a bad virus and it’s scary.”
News4Jax also met up with Joey Eaton. He’s being tested again so he can return to work at a restaurant.
“I tested positive three different times over the last 30 days,” Eaton said. “I did not have any symptoms. I tested positive every single time that I’ve come.”
He believes everyone should get tested
Meanwhile, Union County reported a record-high number of cases Monday of 64, bringing the total there to 374.
Some schools reopened Monday in about 10 districts, which include Baker and Bradford counties, with a handful of others, including Union County, to follow during the week. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran told school districts last month they must reopen schools for in-person instruction or face a cut in funding. Gov. Ron DeSantis later said there would be flexibility to allow districts to delay openings.
The Florida Education Association is suing the state in an effort to postpone school openings, saying there haven’t been enough precautions put in place to make sure students and teachers are safe.
“We know that kids get COVID, we know they spread COVID, we just don’t know to what extent and how severe that might be,” said Andrew Spar, vice president of the teachers union. “What we don’t know is when we open schools and create these super-spreader situations in a climate in which we have uncontrolled community spread, what is that going to do?”
He said teachers want to be in the classroom, but there isn’t a good plan to ensure that it’s done safely.
Spar said schools don’t have the resources to add extra staff to sanitize schools or extra bus drivers to ensure safe distances between students. He also said there has been an increase in teachers either resigning, asking for a leave of absence or retiring out of safety concerns.
He said he has seen teachers saying, “‘I’m not going to risk my life when I’m so close to retirement. I’m going to retire instead.’ We’ve seen that, for sure, across the state,” Spar said.
The number of hospitalizations due to the virus increased by 280 statewide on Monday.