‘I’m very worried’: Local doctors see uptick in COVID cases, most patients unvaccinated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The COVID-19 delta variant appears to be bringing a new spike in cases to Jacksonville hospitals.

According to the latest Florida Department of Health data, Duval County cases jumped about 244%, from 618 cases at the start of June to 2,127 as of last Friday.

The Department of Health shows Duval has a 16.8% positivity rate.

“I’m very worried. I’ve seen some patients come in, and they’re very, very sick,” said Dr. Jennifer Cowart at Mayo Clinic.

She added that a majority of her COVID-19 cases appear to have the delta variant and are not vaccinated.

As of Monday, St. Johns County has the highest vaccination rate at 61%.

Nassau County has 50%, Duval has 48% and Clay County has 41%.

“Definitely, some people are coming from Georgia and other rural counties,” Cowart said. “The majority of people I’ve been taking care of over the last several days are from right here.”

Northeast Florida’s rural counties have generally lower vaccination rates.

Bradford County has 42%, Putnam County is at 37%, Columbia County has 34%, Baker County has 29% and Union County has 28%, according to the Department of Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows over the past seven days, there’s a 69% jump in hospitalizations as of last Friday.

“We don’t want it to go back to how it was when this was first starting. We know some people will die from this illness,” Cowart said.

She recommended people wear masks indoors even if they are vaccinated.

She also said it’s best to keep indoor gatherings small.

The Fourth of July could bring another spike in cases, which generally see about a two-week lag, according to Cowart.

She added that while some cases are from those who are vaccinated, those patients usually have existing health conditions.

Otherwise, research shows vaccines protect against the delta variant.