Florida COVID-19 cases surge; positivity rates up sharply

Jacksonville added most new coronavirus cases in 7 days since mid-February

File photo (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKOSNVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s COVID-19 weekly situation report out on Friday shows all the indicators of the virus are going in the wrong direction.

The number of new cases statewide -- 23,697 -- was nearly double that of the previous week. That’s the highest number of cases in one week since mid-May when the rate was dropping off the astronomical peaks hit in January. The 7.8% positivity rate of coronavirus tests in the week ending July 8 was also up significantly.

The increase in COVID-19 infections was even more concerning locally, where Baker, Bradford, Duval and Nassau counties had the highest number of new cases per 100,000 population of all 67 counties in Florida.

Jacksonville had 2,127 new cases in seven days and reported a 15.7% positivity rate on testing. Duval County has not seen more than 2,000 new COVID-19 in one week since February.

“Some of the models are indicating that by the end of August, we are going to probably hit a peak of this, what looks like a new, upcoming surge,” said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, a Jacksonville infectious disease specialist.

Nassau and Union counties had positivity rates last week above 17% and Baker, Bradford and Union counties had positivity rates over 20% — among the highest in the state.

Baker and Union counties also have among the lowest vaccination rates among Florida counties — 29% and 28%, respectively. Duval County is at 48% and Nassau is at 50%. St. Johns County’s 61% is among the highest in the state.

The rate of vaccinations given also went down last week in Florida at a time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s projected data shows the more contagious Delta variant now accounts for more than half of all the cases in the U.S. last week.

Dr. Rathore said the threat can only be eradicated by having more people vaccinated.

“If you think Delta variant is bad, the variants are only going to get worse, they’re going to get more serious not less serious if we don’t get a hold of this epidemic,” Rathore said.

There were 172 deaths reported in the Florida Department of Health’s weekly release -- although not all those occurred within the past week. The state no longer reports where the deaths occurred, so we don’t know how many of them were in the greater Jacksonville area.

About the Authors:

Digital election producer in 2022. He created WJXT.com in 1995 and managed The Local Station's website through 2021.

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.