COVID-19 cases, deaths in Florida continue upward climb

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JACKSONVILLE, FLa. – Florida reported 16,875 new coronavirus cases on Friday, pushing the number of residents and visitors in the state diagnosed far to 1,548,067. Florida has added nearly a quarter-million cases since the first of the year, which raises the daily case increase to nearly 15,000.

Duval County added nearly 1,000 additional cases Friday, St. Johns and Alachua counties each had more than 200 new cases. There were 125 new cases in Nassau County -- it’s highest one-day increase.

The Department of Health also reported 188 deaths from COVID-19, bringing the number of fatalities in Florida to 24,169 since the pandemic showed up in Florida at the beginning of March. Four of the deaths reported Friday were from Duval County, four in St. Johns, three in Columbia and one each in Alachua, Clay and Nassau counties.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 7,528 patients with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 in Florida hospitals. There were no intensive care beds available in Columbia, only 5.6% of ICU beds were open in Flagler County, 6.8% in Alachua County, 10% in Clay and Putnam counties, 12.5% in Nassau, 19.5% in Duval and 43.2% in St. Johns County.

The rate of positive tests was back up above 10% on Thursday, where it has been since before the new year.

As of Friday morning, 849,317 Floridians had at least one shot of two vaccines approved by the federal government. Demand for the vaccine has exceeded supply everywhere it has been offered, with new appointments being booked within minutes of opening and lines for any location that does not require appointments.

On Thursday, Moskowitz announced plans for a statewide appointment system for COVID-19 vaccinations should be ready within weeks.

“We’re working on a registration system that we plan to launch in the coming weeks to help integrate site registration and fix some of the problems that we’ve all read about,” he said.

The design of a statewide online portal is still under discussion and will be made available to counties -- who are not required to use the system -- to help them coordinate vaccinations.

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