JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Another 277 Florida residents and visitors have died related to the coronavirus, according to data released Tuesday by the state health department.
That number topped the state’s previous one-day high for additional deaths (257) -- set July 31 -- and brought Florida’s seven-day average for COVID-19 deaths to 165. (Note: The deaths reported daily by the Florida Department of Health did not necessarily die in the previous 24 hours as deaths related to coronavirus are often delayed in state reporting.)
The state’s total of coronavirus-related deaths includes 8,553 Florida residents and 132 non-residents. Of those, 276 Florida resident deaths were reported Tuesday with one additional non-resident death reported.
Among the record number of deaths added Tuesday were nine deaths in Duval County and one each in Clay and Columbia counties. Clay has now reported 52 deaths, Columbia has reported 16 and Duval County has reported 198 deaths related to COVID-19.
The youngest death reported Tuesday in Northeast Florida was a 67-year-old Jacksonville man, and the oldest was a 100-year-old Jacksonville woman.
Overall, Florida added 5,831 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday for a statewide total of 542,792.
In Duval County, 211 new cases were recorded Tuesday. The rate of positive COVID-19 tests — considered a measure of active infection spreading in the community — that came back Tuesday increased from 5.5% to 7.2% in the county while the state’s positivity rate increased to 10.30%.
Elsewhere in Northeast Florida, St. Johns County added 78 cases Tuesday, Alachua added 75 and Union added 61.
The number of hospitalizations due to the virus increased by 569 statewide on Tuesday.
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 hospitals is slightly declining. One trend doctors at both facilities say are happening is patients being admitted for COVID-19 are older and staying longer.
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. North of the border, a high school student in Pierce County, Georgia, was sent home sick on the first day of school Monday and tested positive for COVID-19, according to the district.
Florida 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.