Jacksonville city officials are looking for ways to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases in Duval County as the highly-infectious Delta variant spreads throughout the country.
The City of Jacksonville Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee met Monday to discuss, among other things such as the recurring yard waste problem, the state of the pandemic.
According to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which now releases weekly COVID-19 reports rather than daily briefings, the state had 45,604 new cases between July 9 and July 15. That’s nearly double the number of new cases reported the previous week, 23,697 from July 2 to July 8.
Duval County had 4,428 new cases, more than double the 2,127 cases reported the week prior.
While vaccinations slightly outpaced infections, with 5,092 receiving a shot in the county last week, less than half of eligible residents aged 12-and-older have received a shot, 10 percentage points lower than the state average of 59%.
“I mean, that’s a bit of a disappointment to me, frankly,” City Councilman Ron Salem said Monday morning. “I'd sure like to know if we're making progress locally on the number of people that are getting vaccinated because there sure is a lot of promotion of that on all sorts of media, television, social media about getting a vaccine.”
Dr. Akilah Pope, FDOH’s interim medical director for Duval County, appeared before the Public Health and Safety Committee to take questions from members of City Council.
According to Pope, during the last five to 10 days, the case positivity rate in Duval has been 20%, meaning one out of every 5 residents who has been tested came back with a positive result for COVID-19.
But, she reiterated that virtually all new cases and hospitalizations were from unvaccinated residents, and that it was important for all residents to get vaccinated, not just to prevent spread of the disease, but to reduce the severity of symptoms as well.
“We are promoting vaccinations, vaccinations, vaccinations, because if we're not careful, we'll be on to another variant very, very soon, just as we have been with the others,” Pope said.
During the meeting, members of City Council also briefly touched on the condition of District 8 Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman, who was hospitalized earlier this month with COVID-19 and was placed in the intensive care unit.
According to members of City Council who have spoken to Pittman, her condition has reportedly improved significantly from when she was first admitted.
Elsewhere on the First Coast; Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties are seeing surges of the coronavirus as well. Clay had 716 cases for a 19.9% positivity rate; Nassau had 445 cases for a 24.5% positivity rate; and St. Johns had 730 cases for a 17.8% positivity rate.
In Nassau County, the number of infections surpassed the number of vaccinations, though its 50% vaccination rate for residents 12 and older remains higher than Duval County.
The Florida Department of Health has a vaccine locator service, allowing residents to find and schedule a vaccine in their area. Over two dozen vaccine sites are available in Jacksonville.