JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The same morning the Flordia Department of Health reported 80 new coronavirus cases in Duval County -- the largest increase since the pandemic reached the state 3½ months ago -- Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he understands the concern about the rising number of total cases but is reassured by other data points that are trending the other way.
Curry said of 73,000 total tests performed, the positive percentage has dropped from a high of 6.3% in April to 2.8% now. But that is the number of positives from all the tests conducted since the pandemic began. Based on the most recent single day of tests, the 80 positive cases reported Tuesday is 5.6%
Curry said that there were 46 COVID-19 in-patients in Duval County hospitals as of Monday, down from a peak of 80 on May 28. He said he’s also seen a decrease in 911 calls and rescue transports related to coronavirus patients.
“We have flattened the curve in Jacksonville, which was always the goal, and our hospitals are no longer at this time facing that kind of risk,” Curry said. “It is true that our numbers of positive cases have increased. That was to be expected as we know the virus is with us and people are out moving around, getting back to work.”
The mayor asked citizens to wear masks in public, wash hands and social distance.
“The key to protecting our friends and neighbors and loved ones is to behave safely and responsibly," Curry said. "We cannot afford to be complacent. The virus is with us and we all play a part in protecting ourselves, our family and our neighbors. While it is unfeasible to quarantine indefinitely, we must not be reckless in how we reopen our city and our economy. We must reopen safely and responsibly, and that’s what we’re doing in Jacksonville.”
Daily growth of daily cases in Jacksonville and in Florida
Duval County increase of 80 cases Tuesday brings Jacksonville’s total to 2,112 confirmed cases on Tuesday. The previous daily high of new cases was 56.
“As we’ve rapidly expanded testing, we knew cases would increase," Curry said.
Curry has appointed Dr. Charles Moreland, a Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department chief, to lead the city’s COVID-19 testing efforts.
The Republican National Convention is coming
Because hospitalizations and other demands on services are not stressing local health care recourses, Curry said Tuesday he is comfortable bringing the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville in late August.
“Nothing in life is certain,” Curry said Tuesday. “If things change, if this virus takes an unexpected turn, we’ll adapt accordingly at the time. But we are planning in accordance with our trend lines right now. And that is getting people back to work, protecting the vulnerable, protecting our health-care systems and trying to get back to life, to normal in a safe responsible way.”
Public health officials in Florida tried to stop crowded gatherings earlier this year to combat COVID-19, which is spread by close contact between people or through respiratory droplets produced when infected people cough or sneeze. Even as the state has entered Phase 2 of reopening,
As for the convention, Curry said planning is just getting underway with health experts.
“We’re not going to put people at risk if conditions change,” Curry said. "But right now, we’re planning with the data points that we have and that is to have the proper protocols coming in for testing for temperature checks. And once you get in the building to have the proper protocols in place to keep people safe.”
Curry also envisions the convention will be an economic driver, including providing a boost for hotels that will be needed for the thousands of delegates, convention personnel, media and others that will converge on the city.
“If we don’t get back to some normal, some form of events and open up hotels, those people that were laid off will never get their jobs back,” Curry said.
News Service of Florida contributed to this report.