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28 COVID-19 deaths this week push Northeast Florida over 500 total

Since the pandemic began, 524 people in 11 counties have died related to coronavirus

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)
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. – Florida’s COVID-19 daily case increases appear to be leveling off well below the numbers seen during July’s peak, but the state is still reporting well over 100 deaths a day on average this week.

Among those, Northeast Florida counties have reported 28 deaths since Sunday. The 11 counties News4Jax has been tracking through the pandemic have now reported a total of 524 COVID-19 related deaths.

Duval County has reported by far the most deaths (249) but relatively high numbers in smaller counties like Clay (75) and Putnam (36) mean about 2% of people who contracted COVID-19 in those counties died, compared to the 1% or less seen in the area’s other counties.

Three more Jacksonville women -- ages 61, 77 and 99 -- were added to Duval County’s death total in Thursday’s state data. A 71-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man died in St. Johns County, two women -- ages 70 and 77 -- died in Clay County, and a 61-year-old man died in Columbia County.

Statewide, the Florida Department of Health reported another 139 deaths of residents and non-residents in data released Thursday. That pushed Florida’s total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 11,011 since the pandemic began.

According to the Associated Press, last week, the state reported an average death rate of 125 per day and an average of 151 deaths per day during August. Only Texas, at 203 deaths, has a higher daily average over the past week. It has about 50% more residents.

The 3,269 new cases reported Thursday remains a fraction of the daily increases Florida was experiencing one month ago. The state’s daily total peaked July 15 when more than 15,000 cases were reported, but has been declining ever since. It is now back to daily increases the state was seeing in mid-June.

Overall, the state has now reported 611,991 confirmed cases.

Duval County reported 138 new cases in Thursday’s data with a positivity rate of 5.69%.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have also been declining, dropping by almost 1,000 statewide in the last week, AP said. Hospitalizations peaked July 23 at above 9,500.

The state’s positivity rate on tests returned Wednesday rose to 6.36%. Florida averaged 6.68% last week and 9.33% the week before that.

The positive trends in positivity rates come as more districts reopen to in-person learning and grapple with how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Many school districts are also weighing the best way to deliver information to parents when infections are reported in schools.

RELATED: Accidental release of school-related COVID-19 data leads to confusion

In the meantime, districts are being advised to move cautiously after an appeal automatically put on hold a judge’s ruling that threw out the requirement that brick and mortar schools in Florida must be open by Aug. 31.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, breathing trouble, sore throat, muscle pain, and loss of taste or smell. Most people develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia.

Deaths from COVID-19 usually occur two weeks or more after diagnosis, so epidemiologists have said Florida’s fatality rate should shrink in the coming weeks if confirmed infections continue to shrink.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.