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COVID cases double in Duval County as omicron circles the globe

ap_covid_lab.jpg
John Minchillo
/
AP

New COVID cases have more than doubled in Duval County since the start of the month, according to new data.

More than 600 people tested positive last week, the highest number since mid-October.

The increase puts Duval into a category of "substantial transmission," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises that everyone wear masks in public indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

The change mirrors the trend in much of the world as the omicron variant is rapidly spreading. In Florida, the growth in cases is “skyrocketing” particularly in the southeastern part of the state, according to Jason Salemi, associate professor epidemiology at the University of South Florida.

The increases are most pronounced among people aged 20 to 49, Salemi said. The smallest increases were among the most vaccinated and most cautious segment of the population: people 65 and older.

More than 62,200 Florida residents have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic hit the state in early 2020, according to a weekly Department of Health report issued Friday. The death toll grew by 174 from a week earlier.

President Joe Biden has warned that the U.S. faces winter of severe coronavirus infections, worsened by a surge of holiday travelers.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also acknowledged Friday that he expects to see an increase in cases in Florida, but said it is part of a seasonal pattern.

"It’s about three to four weeks behind last year’s schedule, but the rise and the peak and everything is happening very similar to what happened then," DeSantis said. "So we anticipate similar to what we saw in Florida last winter, lower than all those other areas but higher in January than … in November.”