JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The White House Coronavirus Task Force has warned that current efforts are not enough to stop the spread of COVID-19.
We’re seeing a rise in cases across the country, and the death toll from the virus is closing in on a quarter-million. The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 in the U.S. has doubled in the past month and set new records every day this week.
The rise in reported cases includes Florida, and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Wednesday acknowledged the climb. He said he’s staying in constant contact with leaders of city hospitals, working to ensure they’re receiving the help they might need.
When it comes to Jacksonville, Curry said, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have risen in what he called a “steady, small increase.” He said it’s a reminder of what happened over the summer.
“It’s just a reminder to be responsible, practice social distancing. If you’re in a store, in a public place -- wear a mask,” Curry said. “We went through this in July. I’m in regular communication with the leaders of our hospital systems.”
The mayor said unlike when the coronavirus first hit, health experts are now more knowledgeable when it comes to preventing its spread, as well as knowing who’s at the greatest risk for infection.
“You recall the goal in March, the national goal was always to flatten the curve, protect the health care systems. We didn’t know much about it then. So there were extreme measures measures taken all over this country,” Curry said. “We know more now. Our hospitals managed through the summer when we had some spread, and they tell me they’re managing now.”
From California to Pennsylvania, governors and mayors across the U.S. are ratcheting up COVID-19 restrictions as many expect the resurgence of the virus to worsen due to holiday travel and family gatherings. Some leaders are closing businesses or curtailing hours and other operations, and they are ordering or suggesting people stay home and keep their distance.
News4Jax asked Curry how he felt about the holidays.
“People need to make decisions that are responsible, that are in the best interest of them and their families and their neighbors,” Curry said. “I’m not going to act [like] some authoritarian, you know, telling people exactly how they should live their lives, whether or not they should go to work.”
Curry reiterated the need for people to be “responsible” and “smart.”
“You shouldn’t be in big large gathering, parties with people that you’re not around on a regular basis. I mean, that’s risky behavior,” Curry said.
The Jacksonville mayor had this message for families:
“It’s Thanksgiving. Let’s care for each other. Let’s find something to be grateful for, as rough as this year has been,” Curry said. “Find someone to be grateful for and tell them that tell them you love them, tell them you care about them tell them why their special. People need to hear that right now.”
For holiday events in December, the mayor’s office said the tree lighting and boat parade are still planned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report