JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Minutes after the Florida Department of Health reported there were three additional deaths and 53 new COVID-19 cases in Jacksonville in the last 24 hours, Mayor Lenny Curry reminded people that due to the long turnaround on testing, the caseload increase is from people tested five to seven days ago.
Curry said Thursday it is not unexpected that we will see 50 or more cases added to Jacksonville’s totals each day for some time.
“We expect to continue to see spikes in the testing,” Curry said during a Thursday midday video conference. “This is going to be a tough 30 days for all of us in Jacksonville.”
Curry urged people to cooperate with current guidelines and his stay-at-home that goes into effect Friday morning.
Models used by health providers show Jacksonville could see a substantial rise in cases later this month and in May.
“No one has shared a model with me that keeps me up at night. I’m not afraid. And I don’t want people to be afraid,” Curry said. “The models simply say hospitals could be stressed, and there are different models. So it’s reasonable for hospital leadership and city leadership to act on the possibility. And that is why you’ve heard discussions about the field hospital. That is why our hospitals are prepared if they have to find additional bed space. If we do our part, and keep the social distancing, we will flatten the curve. That’ll happen. And as I said before, we may be having some of those impacts now.”
As of Thursday night, 36 people diagnosed with COVID-19 were hospitalized at Jacksonville hospitals, according to Florida DOH data.
Curry addressed rumors that a cruise ship from South America that reportedly has 200 sick people aboard could come to JaxPort rather than Fort Lauderdale or other Florida East Coast ports. He said no one has contacted local port officials about that.
“So we’re hearing potential credible reports and no one is talking to those of us in this in this city that are in leadership positions,” Curry said. “While we demonstrate our compassion, we need to have absolute guarantees that federal, state and local resources will be coordinated to ensure the safety of our local community. We cannot have a cruise ship of COVID-19 patients coming into the city without understanding and have agreed upon protocols in place to care for those passengers and protect our citizens, and that can only happen to communication and coordination.”
Curry said he is as anxious as anyone for people to get back to work, children get back to learning and our lives can begin to return to normal.
More than 4,000 people have been tested at the federally-sponsored testing site in Lot J outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. While the majority of those test results are still pending, Curry noted that less than 7% are coming back positive -- the lowest percentage of positives of any metropolitan area in Florida.
Curry even suggested that our low percentage of positive cases could suggest that early efforts to social distance may have been effective but it’s too early to find any positives out of what’s happening in Jacksonville.
Curry noted that while life has been turned upside down for just about everybody, high school seniors are among those especially impacted by the cancellation of sports, proms and other events that more most people generate lifelong memories.
“It’s not missing on me that seniors are missing life-shaping experiences,” Curry said.
Curry also discussed finalizing its partnership with VyStar Credit Union to help small businesses hit hard by the distancing restrictions and stay-at-home orders and details should be available soon.
As of Thursday evening, according to the state DOH, there were a total of 286 COVID-19 cases in Duval County, with nine deaths.