JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After watching the trend of coronavirus cases in Florida inch up over the past month, both Florida and Duval County’s case counts spiked Sunday to the highest level since the third week of July.
The Florida Department of Health reported 10,105 new COVID-19 cases in the state on Sunday with 571 of those in Jacksonville. That’s a 41,304 increase in the past week and brings Florida’s total since March to 885,201. Duval County now has 37,998 cases.
This came as the nation passed 11 million cases of coronavirus -- an increase of 1 million in just six days.
While the state reported 30 additional deaths on Sunday -- nine of those in Northeast Florida -- those increases are far lower than the numbers seen during Florida’s peak in July.
A large number of test results -- more than 146,000-- were reported on Sunday, which could explain the dramatic rise in positive cases. On Saturday, Florida logged 4,452 new coronavirus cases.
interestingly, the percentage of positive tests on Saturday actually dropped statewide -- from 9.9% to 7.6% -- and the percent positivity dropped across most Northeast Florida counties as well. There is usually a correlation between positive tests and new cases.
Florida and Duval County case growth since June 1
There were nine deaths of people with COVID-19 in Northeast Florida included in Sunday’s report, although those deaths occurred days or, in some cases, week ago. Four of those were in Jacksonville, two each in Alachua and Columbia counties and one in St. Johns County. All of the local victims were between 73 and 96 years old.
The number of deaths in the state’s long-term care facilities topped 7,000 on Sunday -- the vast majority involving residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It was a grim reminder of the toll that COVID-19 has taken on seniors and people with underlying health conditions.
About 40% of the COVID-19 deaths in Florida during the pandemic have been linked to long-term care facilities, according to state data.
The spike in cases also has been reflected in hospitalizations. As of mid-afternoon Sunday, the state reported 3,118 people hospitalized because of “primary” diagnoses of COVID-19. That was up from 2,777 a week earlier and 2,117 a month earlier, according to numbers compiled daily from the state Agency for Health Care Administration website.
The state’s outbreak peaked over the summer, with nearly 10,000 patients being treated in late July. Only 26.4% of available beds were open in the state as of Sunday -- 26.1% of intensive-care beds were open.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Mohammad Reza said our vulnerable and elderly populations still taking hits from this virus and these are not the numbers we want to hear ahead of the holiday season.
“People do not need to lose their life from this virus," Reza said. "The other concern from a medical perspective and a clinical perspective, we’re already exhausted as clinicians because we are getting sick and our families are getting sick because we are having to care for patients with this. This spike is just frightening to me as a care provider and as a frontline worker.”
Reza said it’s the 40% of people with the virus who are asymptomatic and spreading it in the community.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, he says we can see the numbers go up even more because of the small-time frame.
“It’s the fact that we’re still having social gatherings and the lockdown was removed completely across our state,” Reza said. “So if you look back to when all the restrictions were stopped, that’s when you start seeing the spread of this virus as people come back together. Whether it’s a small social event are large social events this virus doesn’t discriminate. It’s going to spread, it’s just too infectious.”