JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For a fourth day this week, daily increases of COVID-19 infections in Flordia remained above 15,000 -- higher than the state was seeing during its previous peak of coronavirus cases in late July. The number of new cases in Florida in the first eight days of 2021 has reached 125,937 -- more than the total population of West Palm Beach.
The Flordia Department of Health has now identified 1,449,252 people with COVID-19 since the first case was identified in the state on March 1, 2020. Florida reported 194 additional deaths on Friday, bringing the state’s total to 22,666.
There were 1,033 additional cases added in Duval County on Friday -- the fourth day in a row of increases over 1,000. Two additional deaths in Jacksonville in Friday’s FDOH report were among 13 fatalities in the 11 counties in Northeast Florida.
St. Johns County added 303 cases Friday, its second-highest single-day increase. Clay County had 225 more in Friday’s report, its third-highest increase after setting records the last two days. Nassau county added 116 cases, also its third highest number after setting breaking two previous records this week. Alachua County had 254 new cases Friday -- it’s most ever in one day.
The state’s rate of positive tests on Thursday was 11.46%, just below the state’s daily average for the past week. Duval County’s rate was slightly higher than Florida’s and Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties’ rates were all above 16%.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, 7,409 people in the state were hospitalized with the virus and fewer than 20% of hospital beds in the state are available.
People are eager for vaccines and swamped online registration sites in most counties, including Duval. Florida followed federal recommendations in starting vaccinations first for front-line medical workers plus residents and staff of nursing homes in mid-December. But instead of putting essential workers and people over 75 next in line, as federal recommendations suggested, Gov. Ron DeSantis moved in late December to open up vaccinations more broadly for people 65 and over.
So far, more than 443,616 people -- just over 2% of the state’s population -- have received a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida. That total includes 20,409 in Duval County, 8,918 in St. Johns and 4,205 in Clay.