White House Coronavirus Task Force report puts Duval County in red zone

Task force also warns about rapid spreading variant of virus

FILE (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida is in “full COVID-19 resurgence,” according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s latest report, which also predicts more deaths to come.

The report, which was sent Sunday to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also said most areas of the state are seeing an increased spread of the virus. The report puts Duval County in the red zone, meaning Jacksonville, like most of the state, is seeing more than 100 cases per 100,000 population.

“Florida has seen an increase in new cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations and is in full COVID-19 resurgence,” the report said. “Nearly all metro areas over 500,000 persons are in full resurgence and aggressive action must meet this increasing community spread in our large metro areas. Metros that continued to improve post-Thanksgiving are now destabilizing.”

READ: Jan. 10 White House Coronavirus Task Force report on Florida

This week, Florida became the third state to pass 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 and saw a 66% increase in new cases over the last week.

The task force is also warning about the rapid spreading variant of the virus identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 76 cases identified in the U.S., 22 of them were found in Florida.

Aside from rapid immunization of the older population and those with underlying health conditions, the team is recommending stronger, focused messaging to the public.

“Florida must increase both statewide and local public mitigation. Increase communication around the importance of personal mitigation with masking, physical distancing and avoiding family gatherings,” the report said.

The report said while increasing vaccinations is a no-brainer, it also emphasized the importance of continued proactive testing.

It even recommends all K-12 teachers, older students and those at colleges and universities be required to get tested weekly, as it dramatically lowers the spread of the virus in those places and lessens the need for contact tracing.

About the Author:

McLean is a reporter with WJXT, covering education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributer to the News4Jax I-team and Facing the Fall coverage.