JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There have been 2,237 coronavirus deaths in Duval County since the pandemic began in Florida in March 2020.
Of those deaths, 754, or nearly 34%, have come in the last three months during the most recent surge fueled by the more deadly delta variant, according to the Florida Health Department in Duval County.
News4Jax had been trying to get local death numbers for at least a month after the state stopped publishing them. The state now gives only weekly death counts for the entire state.
But during a city council committee meeting Tuesday, the local death count came out and now there is a better understanding of the deadly toll the virus had taken in Jacksonville. But it might be a while before there is another public update.
Dr. Chirag Patel of UF Health said no one should be surprised by the number of deaths in Duval County. He said Jacksonville is a case study as to what is happening around the county.
“During this current surge, we have had the two highest weeks of death from COVID compared to any of our other prior surges,” Patel said.
The only reason News4Jax knows about the number of child deaths in Duval County is because hospitals and doctors have been releasing that information on their own. For now, the department of health believes it best not to let you know where the county stands, but during that Tuesday meeting members of the health department told council members what really is happening in the city.
No city council members had questions about the numbers, but News4Jax had plenty, such as the age range, vaccination status and how many deaths occurred each day. On Wednesday, News4Jax was told by the health department it can’t answer those questions and the department is not sure it will release that information during a council meeting again.
In recent weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been asked about publishing local death numbers again and appeared open to the idea in his answers, but so far no changes have been made.
During the meeting, the health department also said that 157,159 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Duval County and that 60% of county residents have been vaccinated, but the number of people getting vaccinated each day has dropped off again. Only 15.5% of children between 12-18 who could get the shot have done so.
One way the city council was hoping to hold down the number of cases in the county is to increase testing. That has happened in the last three weeks and about 900 people a week are now getting tested. But the new sites that recently opened only have funding for the next three weeks.