COVID Cases Surge Before School Starts; City Year Jacksonville; Scotie Cousin

Aug 2, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest COVID-19 data confirms Florida’s place as the epicenter for the current wave. According to federal data, Florida broke a previous record for current hospitalizations with 10,207 on Sunday, just one day after it recorded the most new daily COVID cases, 21,683, since the start of the pandemic.

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) reports Duval County tabulated a record-high 8,308 new cases for the seven days leading up to Thursday. That represents a rise of nearly 2,000 from the previous week, which added 6,430 cases.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order prohibiting school districts from implementing mandatory mask mandates on Friday, just two weeks before school resumes in Duval County.

In a letter obtained by WJCT News,  Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) Superintendent Diana Greene announced that all employees, vendors, and visitors will be required to wear masks on campus for the first 30 days of school.

Teachers, parents, and doctors are fighting back against that edict. They’re holding an emergency webinar Monday night, August 2, calling for the Duval superintendent to institute masks for kids, regardless of what the governor says.

At 6:30 p.m. the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team will co-host an Emergency Town Hall Meeting on Zoom with the Population Health Consortium which includes members of the Northeast Florida Pediatric Society.

Tuesday evening, the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team and Duval for a Safe Return to Campus groups will co-host a rally before the DCPS School Board meeting with the hopes of adding masks to the county’s dress code and Code of Conduct.

Dr. Mobeen Rathore, Co-Chair of Baptist Health System Infection Prevention and Control Committee; Chief, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Wolfson Children's Hospital and Director, University of Florida Center for HIV/AIDS, Research, Education & Service, and Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen,  Professor and Chief, Division of Community and Societal Pediatrics, University of Florida College of Medicine—Jacksonville; and President, International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health, joined us with more.

City Year Jacksonville

City Year Jacksonville is entering its eighth year. Each year they deploy AmeriCorps members to work directly with DCPS students. Allishia Bauman is the chapter’s new executive director and is helping corps members prepare for another year of service amidst the pandemic. She spoke with us about how they are executing their mission while keeping corps members and students safe.

Credit Scotie Cousin

Scotie Cousin

Atlantic Beach-based artist Scotie Cousin has spent the pandemic trying to spread some cheer around town. Cousin began his public installations in 2002 but ramped things up during COVID-19.

His art is made from recycled materials like real estate yard signs. Cousin said he wishes he could do his installations full time, but for now, you can find him across the Beaches and selling work out of his studio. Cousin joined us Monday morning to tell us more about his work.

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