State data show COVID-19 cases spiking among young people in Northeast Florida

80% of newly reported cases in Alachua County are among college-aged residents

Several Northeast Florida counties are seeing a significant increase in the percentage of confirmed COVID-19 cases being reported among young people, according to data released Friday by the Florida Department of Health.

Of 131 cases added for Alachua County on Friday, 111 are known to involve patients between the ages of 15 and 24 -- and 102 of those were among patients aged 18-21. That means nearly 80% of the newly reported cases were among college-aged residents.

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The 131 cases were the most Alachua County has reported in a single day. It’s now at 6,029 cases since the pandemic began.

So far this month, Alachua County has added 777 new cases, and 478 of those were among the 15-24 age group (61% of cases). In June, that age group accounted for only 45% of cases.

In St. Johns County 146 of 429 cases reported so far in September have been in the 15-24 age group -- that’s 34% of the cases.

Duval County’s cases are more evenly distributed among age groups, but Jacksonville has reported 307 cases among the 15-24 age group this month -- about 19% of the 1,590 total cases reported so far in September.

Statewide, Florida added 3,650 newly confirmed cases in Friday’s data, bringing the state to 658,381 cases since the pandemic began.

Florida also reported another 176 deaths in Friday’s data, but a noticeable lag in the reporting of deaths continued: nearly half the deaths added Friday occurred more than 30 days ago.

Of the newly reported deaths, 17 were added in Duval County, Clay and Alachua counties added four each and Baker, Bradford, Columbia, St. Johns and Union counties each added one death.

Among those newly added Northeast Florida deaths, the oldest was a 95-year-old Jacksonville woman and the youngest were a pair of 56-year-old men in Alachua County.

Daily cases reported in Florida and Duval County since March

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the number of people being treated in Florida hospitals for the disease continued a seven-week downward trend, following peaks of more than 9,500 in late July. There were 2,922 patients in the late morning Thursday, according to a hospital census posted online by the state, down from 3,075 the previous morning.

The state’s top regulator announced Thursday that he will be rescinding an emergency order that has kept bars from serving alcohol on-site and will allow them to reopen at 50% occupancy, starting Monday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that Miami-Dade County and Broward County will move into Phase 2 of reopening starting Monday.

The two counties were among the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, recording a total of more than 4,000 resident deaths since the start of the outbreak.