JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville hospitals are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, with the number of patients at some facilities doubling in the last two weeks.
This comes as the Florida Department of Health in Duval County also says there was one case of the contagious delta variant reported last week in Jacksonville. The health department told News4Jax on Wednesday that there is now more than one delta variant case in the city, but that number will be released later this week.
News4Jax on Wednesday spoke with Mala Armogan at a downtown lunch spot. She has been vaccinated, but she said she’s not taking any chances and continues to wear her mask.
“It’s because of this crowd. It’s a crowded area,” Armogan said.
She said she’s not surprised at the number of maskless people.
“I think they are following the CDC rules,” she said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks.
Chad Neilsen, UF Health Jacksonville director of accreditation and infection prevention, said that even with that recommendation, people need to be careful, particularly in Florida.
“We know that 50% or less of Floridians are vaccinated, so when you walk into the grocery store and nobody has a mask on, statistically, it doesn’t make sense,” Neilsen said.
On Wednesday, UF Health Jacksonville reported there were 34 COVID-19 patients, 18 of whom were in the intensive care unit, and 20 other suspected cases at the hospital. Baptist Health System on Wednesday reported 80 cases.
“My biggest concern is that our COVID hospitalized cases are increasing, and they have been now for about two weeks,” Neilsen said.
The state of Florida is no longer releasing daily statistics on cases and vaccinations. Those numbers are now released once a week.
On June 1, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Duval County out of those tested was under 4% (3.36%). Last week, that percentage was up to nearly 7% (6.9%).
Now, as the Fourth of July weekend approaches, local health officials expect a bump in cases. Neilsen said that it may not be as bad since many celebrations will be outside, but there is the delta variant to worry about.
“We know that the delta variant is quickly spreading throughout the United States and I’m sure here in Jacksonville as well. As we continue to have low vaccination numbers across the region, it makes those people more susceptible to getting the delta variant,” Neilsen said.
That is why some people who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine and continue to wear masks are urging others to do so.