Health Department chief: Everyone should get a COVID-19 test

Jacksonville mayor's staff responds to questions about surge in local cases

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the surge in positive cases of coronavirus in Jacksonville, the director of the Duval County Health Department said Thursday she thinks everyone should be tested

“Because we managed to keep our numbers for so low for so long here, there are a lot of people I don’t know anyone that has been positive,” Dr. Pauline Rolle said. “And so to them, out of sight, out of mind. But we’ve got a remember this is a real disease and it does attack people and it can be very devastating.”

Duval County saw another record increase in cases Thursday -- up to 3,724 -- and two additional deaths were reported -- now 46.

In Brentwood -- ZIP code 32208 -- there were 32 news cases in the past two days. On the Westside, at NAS Jacksonville’s ZIP code of 32212, there were 39 additional positive cases in two days.

Jacksonville’s Southside ZIP code of 32246 had 34 new cases since Tuesday.

And At Jacksonville Beach, where we watch the lastest surge in Northeast Florida begin, there were 28 more cases in the past two days.

These increases have many raising concerns about what is happening or not happening in Jacksonville to combat the virus.

Mayor Lenny Curry did not hold a briefing Thursday, but his office did respond to a few of our questions by email.

Question 1: Based on past comments, it appears the mayor is not too concerned about the increase as long as the hospital system does not become overtaxed. Can you clarify?

Answer: “Mayor Curry has always said that this virus is with us. He is concerned for any person that tests positive, however, his responses are directed at the fact that we expected to see a surge in case numbers when testing criteria and availability changed. Originally, you couldn’t be tested unless you had a fever AND symptoms. Today, there’s no criteria needed at two state sites seeing up to 1,000 people combined per day. In addition, we are now testing MORE than double the amount we were testing just two weeks ago. Common sense tells you that means we are going to see a large increase in positives. Medical professionals conducting the tests tell us that most people testing positive are asymptomatic. We are concerned for every person battling this virus and hope and pray they don’t develop symptoms and that they self-isolate to avoid the spread.”

Question 2: With the sharp increase in positive cases, and now word that states like NY and NJ will require Florida residents who travel to those states to quarantine, what’s his opinion— should the governor move the state back to Phase One? Answer: No.

Question 3: Is there a threshold of increased positive cases he’s targeting where, despite the plea for people to social distance and wear masks, he would move the city back to Phase One to mitigate the spread if the governor does not? Answer: No.

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