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State: Over 7,200 people in Florida have died after contracting COVID-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Five more people in Northeast Florida have died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, data from the Florida Department of Health revealed Monday.

In Duval County, the state reported a 66-year-old and 87-year-old woman died due to complications of the virus. The remaining three deaths reported Monday include one in Nassau County (a 65-year-old man), one in Columbia (a 74-year-old woman) and one in Flagler (a 66-year-old man).

Last week, Nancy Loznicka told News4Jax her 99-year-old mother, Mildred, died after contracting the virus. She said her mother spent 14 days in the hospital after catching a fever.

“The doctor explained to me her body was working so hard just to get oxygen. Whole upper body was just heaving up and down fighting for air,” Loznicka said.

Tommy Shapard, 46, survived COVID-19 after more than a week in the hospital. Shapard tested positive for the virus early on during the pandemic in March.

“I got to the hospital about nine o’clock, and they walked me through a couple different rooms, one room that I was in was the resuscitation room, which I didn’t know that at the time,” said Shapard. “I was in such bad shape. They were anticipating that they might have to resuscitate me. In that moment, so that I, my heart could have gone out and they would have had to try to, you know, bring me back.”

Shapard said after seeing the condition of his lungs, doctors told him to call his wife and kids.

“The ER doctor just said, ‘Look, these are, these are some terrible lungs, your X-rays look awful, some of the worst COVID lungs we’ve seen, you need to get your affairs in order. And you need to call your wife, and get your children up here. As soon as you can, because by about seven, eight o’clock in the morning, we’re going to put you on a ventilator,‘” said Shapard. “I picked up the my phone and just started making short videos to sit down to my wife and my kids, my, my mom and dad, brothers, and then some close friends and colleagues.”

In one video hours before Shapard believed he would be put on a ventilator, Shapard told his brothers to take care of his wife and kids. Shapard said he didn’t end up being put on the ventilator. Instead, his condition began to improve.

“I remember in the middle of the night, which would be early Friday morning, March 27 waking up and they were taking the, the oxygen off my nose. I thought, wait, I need that, right?” said Shapard. “[They said] you’re doing really well. We want to see how you how well you do without the oxygen.”

Shapard was discharged from the hospital on April 1 – a week after being admitted to the hospital. Shapard says he is still experiencing health issues as a result of the virus, but is feeling much better.

Statewide, the Florida Health department reported Monday the lowest number of new cases over a 24 hour time frame in the past five weeks. For the first time since June 17, the percentage of people testing positive in Duval County fell below 6%.

The rate of positive COVID-19 tests -- considered a measure of active infection spreading in the community -- was down to 9.1% on Sunday, the first time Florida has reported back-to-back days under 10% since mid-June.

It’s worth noting that Florida temporarily closed state-run testing sites Friday in anticipation that they could be damaged by Isaias’ winds and rainfall. It’s unclear how much impact that had on testing overall. News4Jax has requested comment from the Department of Health.


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