Florida coronavirus cases continue to climb at slower rate

After leapfrogging over the 200,000 threshold, Florida's case increases have slackened -- slightly

FILE - In this June 25, 2020, file photo, a physician assistant prepares to collect a nasal swab sample from a patient for COVID-19 testing at Xpress Urgent Care in Tustin, Calif. The personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the initial weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running out again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) (Jae C. Hong, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – According to data reported Tuesday morning by the Florida Department of Health, confirmed cases of coronavirus increased by 7,347 from the previous day’s total across the state.

That brings Florida’s total to 213,794 total cases since the pandemic began.

That continues a trend of increases lower than the skyrocketing peak of 11,458 the state reported in a single day on Saturday.

Sunday’s daily number was 10,059 as the state surpassed 200,000 cases since testing began in early March. Monday’s number was 6,336.

Duval County, which also saw record peaks in new cases last week, had 348 positive tests for the virus reported Tuesday, bringing the county’s total to 9,835 confirmed cases.

Before we put too much stock in the brief dip in positive cases, there was a similar drop last week before the state and Duval County saw record caseloads. And, as the chart of daily cases below shows and our commenters are quick to point out, we often see the numbers drop on Mondays and after holiday weekends as the number of tests that come back are lower.

There were 63 additional deaths in the state’s report Tuesday, including two in Duval County. The latest deaths reported in Jacksonville were a 62-year-old man, whose case was first noted by the state June 27 and an 83-year-old woman whose case was first noted July 3. It’s unclear if either had contact with known coronavirus cases.

Jacksonville’s percent of people testing positive was at 15.2% on Monday -- more than four times the average of positive tests being recorded a month ago.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who announced Tuesday he’s in self-quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure, said hospitalizations for coronavirus are going up in the city but those patients aren’t flooding the intensive care units at local hospitals. He said the ICU beds, which are closely monitored, are filling up, but not with COVID-19 patients.

“The risk is that as this community spread happens that it spreads into a vulnerable population and, again, it stresses our hospital systems,” Curry said, adding that the hospitals are not there yet but it’s a concern. “Their loads are up and we just have to do everything we can to slow the spread.”

Last week, Curry issued a face mask mandate for Jacksonville, requiring people to wear masks indoors when they can’t socially distance.

“As I’ve stated for months, we’re asking that everyone practice personal responsibility and wear their mask at times where they cannot be socially distant. I’m grateful for those that are taking this responsibility seriously,” Curry said. “The actions are protecting the health and safety of your loved ones, friends, neighbors, (and) high-risk persons in our city.”

Jacksonville will add three new federal testing sites at locations across the city Wednesday.

Florida reached 100,000 cases on June 22, more than three months after the effects of the coronavirus began to be felt in the state, so Florida has added more than 113,000 cases in just over two weeks.

Amid the surge, Gov. Ron DeSantis has focused on steps the state has taken, such as boosting protections for nursing-home residents, as seniors and people with underlying medical conditions -- pretty much the definition of nursing-home residents -- are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

DeSantis also has tried to drive home the message that many new infections are occurring in young adults, who are less likely to suffer severe medical consequences.

“It’s been a huge shift. The case growth has really been in that 18- to-34, -35 age group,” DeSantis said during a news conference Thursday with Vice President Mike Pence in Tampa. “Now, those are folks that are by and large going to be much less prone to significant consequences. Nevertheless, with the increasing positivity rate, it’s clear that you’re seeing more and more community transmission really being driven by that age group. And so, if you’re someone in one of the medically vulnerable conditions, or you’re an older person, just understand that that’s out there, continue to be vigilant.”

Democrats have blasted DeSantis for not taking steps such as requiring face masks to be worn in public places statewide to prevent spread of the disease. Many local governments -- including Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palatka, St. Augustine Beach and Nassau County -- have required face masks, but DeSantis has declined to issue a statewide mandate or to backtrack from economic reopening efforts that started in May and expanded in June.

As of Monday, Florida’s death count was the ninth highest in the country overall and the 27th highest per capita at 17.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

About 43% of the cases are in three counties: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

There were 451.9 new reported cases per 100,000 people in Florida over the past two weeks, which ranks second in the country for new cases per capita.

Also in Florida:

— Four Miami Marlins baseball players and a third Miami Heat basketball player have tested positive.

— Four Pinellas County hospitals were without any space in their intensive care units Saturday, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

— People of color have been overwhelmingly and disproportionately affected by the coronavirus on the Treasure Coast, a TCPalm data analysis found. While only a third of the general population’s racial identity is something other than non-Hispanic white, 85% of the coronavirus cases in June were people of color, the paper found.

The News Service of Florida and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.