JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida recorded more new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday than the state has in weeks as health officials hope to see vaccinations prevent another surge of the virus.
The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday reported 9,068 additional COVID-19 cases -- the highest single-day increase since Feb. 5 when 11,543 cases were reported.
The state also recorded single-day increases of more than 7,000 cases twice in the last week.
On Tuesday, 220 additional cases were recorded in Duval County -- the highest single-day increase since Feb. 19 when 243 cases were reported-- and 49 new cases were reported in Clay County -- the highest single-day increase since Feb. 16 when 64 cases were recorded.
As for the rate of people testing positive for the first time, it was 8.16% on Monday -- a rate that hasn’t been that high since early February.
Mia Jones, CEO of Agape Community Health Center, said the overall number of COVID-19 tests being administered in their clinics has taken a big dive.
“Since the vaccines have come out, we are probably looking at about a 90 to 95% reduction in testing,” Jones said. “When you take away testing, and then you add onto that a large number of people not taking advantage of getting the vaccine, it makes it a real concern for us as a community, and one that we need to look at.”
Meanwhile, new studies out of London indicate that the patients found to have the variant of the coronavirus first identified in the United Kingdom tend to be younger and have fewer underlying conditions than those with the original strain.
The median age of people with the newest COVID-19 cases in Florida is 35. It’s 33 in Duval County, 39 in Clay County, 35 in St. Johns County and 43 in Nassau County.
New research Monday also shows that while the variant first identified in the U.K. is no more severe than the original, it does spread more effectively, making testing and tracking the virus that much more important.
Epidemiologist Dr. Jonathan Kantor, with Penn Center for Epidemiology, said it’s more important to focus on longer-term trends than just a single day’s data.
“The key thing is to look at that overall situation, look at those overall numbers and try to make sure that everything continues to trend in the right direction,” Kantor said.
The state Department of Health on Tuesday reported 7,449,475 people had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot in Florida. Of those, 4,055,668 had received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and 510,247 had gotten the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Those people who got the J&J vaccine account for 6.8% of everyone who has received at least one shot in Florida and 11.2% of everyone who has been fully vaccinated in the state.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that Florida is temporarily suspending J&J vaccinations, following recommendations for a pause from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while safety issues are examined.