COVID-19 variant reported in Duval, total cases trend downward

Florida shows the highest count of COVID-19 variant cases across the country with 347 as of Friday, according to the CDC.

UK COVID-19 variant detected in Duval County

Jacksonville, Fla. — COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7.

It was first discovered in the UK in the Fall, then later in the United States in December. Public health officials say the strain is more contagious and spreads more quickly.

Now, Dr. Pauline Rolle says Duval County has at least one case of the UK variant.

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“This virus has continued to rage on. We’re still learning new things about it. Guidance is changing on it. So we look to be dealing with this for a few months. Folks need not get relaxed or comfortable,” she said.

Public health officials fear the more contagious strain could lead to another wave of cases. However, Action News Jax Medical Expert Dr. Michelle Aquino tells us variant strains are common in all viruses and should not scare people.

Dr. Leon Haley, the CEO of UF Health Jacksonville, said hospitalizations continue to go down. Duval county had about 600 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 about a month ago, and now the county sit at about half that with 320.

Hospitalizations continue to go down. We were at 600 hospitalizations about 4 weeks ago. Now it’s in the 320 range.

Dr. Rolle added that cases are trending downward with a positivity rate of 5%. “At some point just a few weeks ago, we were in the twenties. Folks are getting vaccinated, masking up, and social distancing is helping.”

The CDC reports the the COVID vaccines currently cover all variant strains of the virus, including the UK variant B.1.1.7 and another strain found in Brazil and South Africa.