JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County is near, and some days at, the daily recommended number of COVID-19 tests, Mayor Lenny Curry announced on Monday. He said that will help him determine whether we have flattened the curve and when it is time to start reopening the city.
Curry cited a recent analysis from researchers at Harvard University that recommends testing at a rate of 152 people per 100,000 people each day. With an estimated population of 960,000 in Jacksonville, that would be nearly 1,460 tests a day.
“We’ve tested more than 10,000 individuals at drive-thru sites located at Lot J and Prime Osborn, and we are steadily increasing our testing capacity and Lot J. In addition, thousands more have been tested for COVID-19 at our local hospitals, other medical facilities and through the Department of Health,” Curry said. “This combined testing capacity puts us in excess of 1,500 tests per day.”
Curry said one of the most important things in the path forward is access to testing in Jacksonville.
As testing capacity continues to grow, a new walk-up testing location will open in Jacksonville within the next week, Curry said. The new testing site will be located at Kooker Park on the city’s Eastside and will be able to test up to 200 people per day.
“This is important to assure that people in all parts of town, from all backgrounds, can get testing,” Curry said. “The goal of testing is to identify and isolate individuals with a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 and track how widespread the disease is in the community. Milestones for a safe reopening also point to the percentage of positive test results. Again, we are already meeting this criteria. In Jacksonville, our percentage of those testing positive is holding steady at 5% -- well below numbers and numbers in other large metropolitan areas throughout the country.”
The Florida Department of Health on Monday morning reported 863 COVID-19 cases in Duval County, with 78 hospitalizations and 15 deaths.
Curry said he could unveil a task force on reopening the city as soon as this week. There is no specific date for that reopening and many things won’t go back to normal right away.
“The virus is here," Curry said. "But we can’t stay locked in our homes indefinitely. It’s just not an option. There’s a whole lot of fallout that’s already happened from that and it’s only going to get worse the longer this goes.”
Curry added that when the decision to reopen the city is made, people have to take personal responsibility for mitigation like wearing masks in public, not congregating in groups and working from home when possible.
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