Friday Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said that some are “clearly not taking this virus seriously,” as he urged people to wear face masks and continue to social distance.
“Just yesterday, 783 people were tested at Lot J, setting a record since it first opened. The Legends Center tested 270. Across the city, multiple private locations tested hundreds more for COVID-19. As a result, our positive test results are increasing," he said.
The mayor said that so far, despite the increase in cases, area hospitals are not seeing an influx of COVID-19 patients.
The intensive care units at area hospitals are where the most serious COVID-19 cases are treated. Those units are also needed for other critical care such as heart attacks, traffic injuries and other life threatening ailments or injuries.
Friday, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration reported there were 118 ICU beds available across the city out of 440 total ICU beds, with all available ICU beds occupied at UF Health Jacksonville. That translates into more than 73% of all available ICU beds being in use across the city, according to the last available report.
“Thankfully, despite our increase in cases, our hospitals are not seeing spikes of COVID-19 patients. Our hospital ICU’s beds are not near capacity because of COVID patients and JFRD reports emergency transports continue to stay at one or two COVID patients per day,” the mayor said.
As the Florida Health Department chart above shows, the number of COVID-19 cases in Jacksonville has been rising fast, going from 73 new cases on Tuesday to 99 cases on Wednesday to 143 new cases on Thursday. Sixty people have died due to COVID-19 in Duval County, and 2,403 residents had tested positive for the virus at the time of this story’s publication.
“I have always said this virus spreads person to person. I have always said that we should be social distancing and wearing masks. As we are seeing right now, without these precautions, the community spread is real. For example, there are people in crowded bars and walking on crowded streets who are not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing,” Curry said.
This past weekend three Jacksonville Beach bars closed, with each establishment reporting at least one customer testing positive for COVID-19.
The mayor said it is “imperative” that everyone practice social distancing.
An updated model by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is forecasting that Florida has the potential to be the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
At the time of this story’s publication, Florida was reporting 89,748 COVID-19 cases with 3,104 deaths. Like Jacksonville's, the state’s coronavirus numbers are also spiking. The latest state and county-by-county COVID-19 statistics are available here.