Duval, St. Johns report record increases in COVID-19 cases

2 more coronavirus patients in Jacksonville die, including 34-year-old man

CAPTION ADDITION ADDS PRODUCT''S USE: An employee holds up an antibody test cartridge of AFIAS COVID-19 Ab testing kit used in diagnosing the coronavirus for a photograph on a production line of the Boditech Med Inc. in Chuncheon, South Korea, Friday, April 17, 2020. Boditech Med recently started exporting its antibody-based virus test kits to various countries. The product shown is fluorescence Immunoassay that can be used in general antibody tests but not in rapid tests.(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) (Lee Jin-Man, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 34-year-old Jacksonville man was among 46 COVID-19 related deaths across Florida in the last 24 hours, according to data released Thursday morning by the state Department of Health.

The numbers Thursday also showed record increases in coronavirus cases for both Duval and St. Johns counties.

Duval is up to 3,724 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 305 cases in a single day. St. Johns County’s confirmed cases were up by 51 to a total of 599. It’s important to note that all of the positive tests reported Thursday by the state were not necessarily taken on the same day.

Across the state, Florida has now reported a total of 114,018 cases, up 5,004 from the previous day. The increase came a day after Florida shattered its previous one-day record, with more than 5,500 new positive cases reported on Wednesday.

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

Florida’s rapidly escalating daily figures continue a trend that began when the state reopened its economy with some restrictions last month. In response, several counties and cities have implemented emergency orders requiring the wearing of masks in public places like stores and are cracking down on businesses that aren’t enforcing social distancing rules.

During a Wednesday news conference near Miami, DeSantis said the state’s spike is being driven by outbreaks in large metropolitan areas, which is why he hasn’t issued a statewide order requiring masks. The Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa areas have seen the most cases.

Still, DeSantis said, every Floridian should avoid large indoor gatherings and wear a mask when in crowded businesses or in close contact with someone outside the home.

“Doing some of these simple things will make a big difference,” DeSantis said.

Florida’s Thursday report included 46 additional deaths in the state with two additional deaths in Duval County: the 34-year-old patient whose case was first reported June 22, and a 62-year-old man whose case was first counted by the state on June 16.

Two weeks ago, Florida’s one-day record for confirmed coronavirus cases was 1,601, set in mid-May. That has been exceeded every day since June 12 and the seven-day average for tests coming back positive has tripled from 3.8% on June 1 to 13%.

The state now has more than 109,000 confirmed cases since March 1. There have been 3,281 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, a jump of 43 since Monday. The average daily death toll has held steady in June at about 35, down from 60 in early May.

Demand for testing remains high, with long lines again Thursday 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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After a month of decline, hospital admissions for coronavirus also have been rising, with a daily average of 161 statewide over the past week, a 30% jump over two weeks ago. Still, that is about 25% below the state’s peak in early May.

Hospitalizations statewide increased by 201 to a total of 13,775 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 8.72% -- down from the 15.85% in Wednesday’s report.

State and health officials have said the new cases have skewed younger in recent weeks and have been more likely to be mild or asymptomatic, which has kept the hospitalization and death totals below their peaks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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.