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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

New Covid Variants; 904WARD; Telescope Health; Local Sports

A medical assistant administers a Covid test.

Florida continues to lead the nation in COVID cases. The weekly numbers from the state, reported Friday, showed more than 46,000 new cases across the state. On Saturday, Florida broke single-day records for both cases (23,903) and hospitalizations (13,747). 

On the plus side, the state reports that vaccination rates are rising, including in Duval county, where the Department of Health administered 16,233 COVID-19 vaccinations between July 30 and Thursday.

Doctors in Jacksonville are keeping a close eye on other variants, like gamma, as they begin to spread behind the highly contagious delta variant.

Dr. Chirag Patel, assistant chief medical officer at UF Health Jacksonville, joined us on the show with information about the new variants.


904WARD was founded in 2015 by a group of friends determined to build a more inclusive Jacksonville. Now they are releasing a new app to help start difficult conversations about race. The app is a digital version of their Race Cards.

Volunteer Erin Colledge spoke with us about the app. Download it here.

Telescope Health

Last week, Telescope Health opened a drive-through, self-pay COVID-19 rapid testing site in Neptune Beach. Telescope Health received funding from the city of Jacksonville for its previous COVID-19 testing services. Telescope administrators remain optimistic that similar funding will be provided in support of the Neptune Beach site.

Dr. Matthew Thompson, co-founder and COO of Telescope Health, is also the director of technology for Emergency Resources Group and an emergency medical specialist at Baptist Health, where he treats COVID patients. He posted this message following a shift at Baptist Health. Dr. Thompson told us more about the new testing site.

Local Sports

First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross contributor Josh Torres joined us with local sports news.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Training camp has started as the Jags held a scrimmage on Sunday with over 15,000 fans in the stands.
  • Tim Tebow fights for a spot but has shown promise as an option at Tight End. He missed practice on Friday for a non-COVID-related illness and was back on the field for Sunday’s scrimmage.
  • Gardner Minshew’s future is uncertain. Some suspect he will be traded or kept as a backup.
  • The first preseason game is Saturday at 7 p.m. when fans will get a first look at the new Jags lineup and the debut of Urban Meyer.

College Football


First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Associate Producer Katherine Hobbs can be reached at or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.