JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The total number of COVID-19 cases in Duval County since the start of the pandemic is expected to hit 40,000 by Saturday.
It comes as major hospitals across the country, including Baptist Health in Jacksonville, signed on to a letter strongly encouraging people to wear masks.
COVID-19 related hospitalizations in Jacksonville are the highest they have been since September but are still hundreds of cases away from the number of hospitalizations seen during the peak of the pandemic.
Gonzalo Mejia, 46, and his husband tested positive for the virus in early November.
Mejia was released after six days in the hospital just in time to spend Thanksgiving with his spouse. He was admitted after an at-home oxygen test showed his oxygen levels dipping.
“The hardest part for me was being at the hospital by myself,” said Mejia. “They don’t allow any kind of company and the unknown. It’s like, am I going to be one of those who didn’t, you know, think something bad was going to happen and suddenly things go down for the worst?”
In the past two days, nearly 700 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Jacksonville. More than 9,000 cases have been reported statewide in each of the past two days.
A Tampa Bay Times analysis of Florida Department of Health data found that in Florida, cases in young adults spiked days before cases in seniors and nursing home residents. That means that the current trends are more dangerous than they appear, according to The Times.
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people who live inside your home.
Mejia is still using an oxygen tank at home.
He was shocked at the impact the virus had on his body given he regularly exercises and has no pre-existing conditions.
“I had the ability to go through it, and also to have the health insurance,” said Mejia. “What about all the people who need to work every day? If they don’t go to work, they cannot pay for food, they cannot pay for rent, they cannot take care of their families.”