JACKSONVILLE, FLa. – Clay County reported 11 additional deaths related to coronavirus and Duval County added another eight in data released Saturday by the Florida Department of Health.
Jacksonville has now reported 800 deaths related to COVID-19 since the city’s first death was reported in mid-March.
Altogether, 24 deaths were reported across six Northeast Florida counties on Saturday, as Florida added 211 deaths statewide.
Florida has now reported 24,380 deaths related to COVID-19 since the pandemic hit the state last March. Of those, 1,780 have been in the 11 counties tracked by News4Jax. Clay has reported two dozen deaths in the last five days to push the county’s total to 221.
Florida reported 12,119 new coronavirus cases on Saturday. Florida has added nearly a quarter-million cases since the first of the year and now sits at 1,560,186 total cases since March.
Duval County added 442 additional cases Saturday for 74,553 total cases.
As of Saturday afternoon, there were 7,349 patients with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 in Florida hospitals. There were no intensive care beds available in Nassau, Columbia or Putnam counties, only 7.14% of ICU beds were open in Alachua County, 16% in Clay County, 15.5% in Duval and 27.3% in St. Johns County.
The rate of positive tests again dropped below 10% on Friday, the second time this week the state has seen the number dip that low.
As of Saturday morning, 859,556 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, state officials announced that a statewide appointment system for COVID-19 vaccinations should be ready within weeks.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has said relatively little about the soaring numbers of cases and deaths while touting the state’s vaccination efforts.
“Florida has now vaccinated more than 500,000 seniors -- far outpacing other states in the nation that are reporting updates on this critical effort,” he said in a video released by his office Friday. “This accounts for 60% of all Florida’s total vaccinations, and that percent is increasing with each week.”
But state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat who is widely considered a potential election challenger to DeSantis is 2022, sent an email through her political committee Saturday that blasted the Republican governor.
“Floridians are suffering as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ herd immunity strategy fully takes shape,” the email said. “We must continue to wear masks, keep distance, and avoid crowds to protect ourselves and each other as infections continue to skyrocket.”
The numbers of deaths and cases have surged in recent months. As an example, the state on Oct. 16 reported 748,437 cases and 15,830 deaths of Florida residents. That means the number of cases has more than doubled in three months, while the number of deaths has increased by more than 50 percent.
Long-term care facilities have been hard-hit throughout the pandemic, with 8,813 reported deaths of residents and staff members as of Saturday. Most of those deaths have involved residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The largest numbers of deaths have been in heavily populated Southeast Florida. Miami-Dade County had 4,561 resident deaths as of Saturday, while Palm Beach County had 2,033 and Broward County had 1,957, according to the Department of Health.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.