Record 5,500 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Florida; Duval also sets record

The percent of new COVID-19 tests returning positive statewide was 15.91% -- up from 10.82% in Tuesday’s report.

FILE - In this March 12, 2020, file photo, a researcher at Protein Sciences reaches for a vial in a lab in Meriden, Conn. The biotech company is currently researching a vaccine for COVID-19. As the race for a vaccine against the new coronavirus intensifies, many rich countries are rushing to the front of the line by placing advance orders for the inevitably limited supply to guarantee their citizens are immunized first. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File) (Jessica Hill, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health on Wednesday reported a new record-high number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

More than 5,500 positive tests were reported Wednesday morning, shattering the previous one-day record and bringing the statewide total to 109,014. The previous record for cases reported in one day was 4,149.

Duval County reported 217 new cases, also a one-day high, though it’s important to note that all of the positive tests reported Wednesday by the state were not necessarily taken on the same day.

The Florida data released Wednesday marked the seventh day in a row with an increase near or exceeding 3,000 cases.

The number of new reported Florida cases have nearly doubled in the month of June. Phase two of the state’s reopening plan began June 5.

Florida’s Wednesday report included 44 additional deaths in the state. No Northeast Florida deaths were reported Wednesday.

Hospitalizations statewide increased by 455 to a total of 13,574 since the beginning of March. The state does not release how many of those have recovered. News4Jax has contacted area hospitals about the numbers of COVID patients they are currently treating. Most say they will only turn that information over to the Health Department.

Dr. Leon Haley, CEO at UF Health Jacksonville, said during a press conference Wednesday that the numbers of admissions have doubled over the last week.

“We probably have about 30 patients that are currently under investigation, which means that we suspect they may or may not have it,” Haley said. “And we have seven patients in our ICU right now which is a significant increase over the last week.”

The percent of new COVID-19 tests returning positive statewide was 15.91% -- up from 10.82% in Tuesday’s report.

Demand for testing remains high, with long lines again Tuesday at Lot J, the state’s regional testing site that can test up to 750 people each day. Lot J was closed Wednesday due to storm damage to the tents.

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News4Jax learned Tuesday that 71 firefighters are now out in quarantine after four Jacksonville Fire and Rescue employees have tested positive. There are also 13 lifeguards out on quarantine after one tested positive.

After a Jacksonville Sheriff'‘s Office recruit was exposed to a COVID-19 patient outside the police academy, the entire class was quarantine and four tested positive. While the classes continue, schedules have been changed to limit who goes in and out of the facility at any given time. Some classes have also been moved outside

After the recent surge in cases, health officials reissued advisories urging social distancing and mask-wearing.

Some businesses have begun reevaluating their decisions to reopen amid the spike in cases reported by the state health department on its website. Nearly 3,300 people in Florida have died from COVID-19.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered the Health Department to reissue advisories urging Floridians to consider wearing masks to help keep the virus from spreading and to refrain from attending gatherings of more than 50 people.

Despite the rise in new infections, however, the governor has not indicated any plans to retreat from plans already underway to reopen the state. Three months of business closures have left hundreds of thousands of people out of work and disrupted the day-to-day lives of Floridians.

Starting May 4, the state gradually began allowing businesses to reopen. Currently, restaurants and bars are allowed to offer indoor seating at 50% capacity.

Universal and SeaWorld, both in Orlando, as well as Busch Gardens and Adventure Island in Tampa, have opened back up in recent weeks, and Walt Disney World is set to reopen next month after being closed since mid-March. Disney World on Monday reopened its Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

“Increased openings means we’ll continue to see cases increase,‘' said Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez, associate professor of public health sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “It’s important to strongly encourage communities to wear masks. It’s just common sense.”

Miami-Dade, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orange County (including Orlando) and Monroe County (Florida Keys) have all required some degree of wearing masks in public. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has said he will not issue a mask mandate.

In Miami, officials have been cracking down on businesses not following rules restricting capacity and requiring the use of masks.

At least one resident of Orange County pushed back, filing a court challenge on Sunday that claimed the mask requirement violates his right to privacy under the Florida Constitution.

The lawsuit, supported by Republican State Rep. Anthony Sabatini and the Florida Family Policy Council, a conservative organization that opposes abortion and gay rights, called the order “a radical infringement on the reasonable and legitimate expectation of privacy that most Floridians expect to have over their own facial and bodily autonomy.‘'

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Monday that he hadn’t seen the lawsuit.

“With the numbers climbing rapidly, it’s really important that we wear masks,‘' he said at a news conference. ``Our goal is really simple: to slow the spread of the virus in our community.‘'

In Orlando, 152 coronavirus cases had been linked to one bar near the University of Central Florida campus, Dr. Raul Pino, a health officer in Orlando with the Florida Department of Health, said Monday.

“A lot of transmission happened there,‘' Pino said. “People are very close. People are not wearing masks. People are drinking, shouting, dancing, sweating, kissing and hugging -- all the things that happen in bars. And all those things that happen are not good for COVID-19.‘'

In the interactive chart below, use the legend below to turn on and off the categories of data to show exactly what you want to see.