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Jacksonville doctor: 50 cases of COVID-19 linked to beaches crowd

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – More positive cases of the coronavirus reported in Jacksonville Beach have prompted additional businesses to voluntarily close for cleaning.

About a dozen bars and restaurants have temporarily shut down to do deep cleans after many customers and employees in the area tested positive for COVID-19.

One doctor, whose offices are handling a majority of the rapid tests for restaurant staff and patrons, said he’s connected at least 50 positive cases in the last three days to people who were at beach-area bars and restaurants.

Doctor Saman Soleymani, CEO of Avecina Medical, said his three clinics are the busiest they’ve ever been.

“The beaches crowd really started coming in since Friday,” he told News4Jax.

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Soleymani estimates there’s a 30% positivity rate within this group. Many patients, in their 20s and 30s, are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, he noted.

At Avecina’s Julington Creek location, the parking lot was full on Wednesday with people waiting to get tested. Some waits were as long as four hours.

“Management told us that in order for us to go into work that we had to do that test,” said Andri Curl, a well-known DJ who makes his living spinning at Jacksonville Beach bars and restaurants.

Curl said he’s not allowed back until he can prove he tested negative.

“I’m pretty positive I’m going to be negative,” he said. “This is just precautionary.”

Roommates Morgan Anderson and Lexi Lee, both 20, live in the area and wanted to get tested before they see their grandparents.

“We want make sure that one of us doesn’t have it,” Anderson said. “Since she (Lee) does work in a restaurant right now, it’s really important that we check it out and make sure we don’t have it for our grandparents’ sake.”

Soleymani showed his tests to News4Jax. His nurses collect a nasal swab sample and run it through a machine in batches. The results come back within the same day.

“If I swab your nasal cavity and you’re actively carrying the virus, that is how you pass it along to someone that might be immunocompromised,” he said. “I recommend everyone that is potentially exposed to be tested somewhere.”

Meanwhile, more popular bars and restaurants in Jacksonville Beach are closing out of precaution.

Hoptinger and The Shim Sham Room, which share management, announced that they’re deep cleaning even though no one who works there had tested positive for the virus, according to a post. The Mini Bar closed for cleaning, also despite saying that no employees have tested positive.

D&LP Subs closed its indoor dining as a precaution, but continues to-go and delivery services. No employees there have reported being sick.

TacoLu and Angie’s Subs remained closed Wednesday. Tacolu owner Don Nicol told News4Jax at least one employee tested positive.

Lynch’s Irish Pub and Graffiti Burger Bar reopened Tuesday.

RELATED: Another record day of coronavirus cases reported in Duval County


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