In a media availability Friday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tried, yet again, to persuade people to flatten the COVID-19 curve. But he also said people need to learn to “live with the virus.”
“It is important that we understand … that we’ve got to learn to live with this virus. Lockdowns are not sustainable,” Curry said. “And people won’t stand for it.”
For residents of the Republican National Committee host city, that’s easier said than done, with Jacksonville seeing spikes in cases, including a positive test rate of 13% in the latest batch of tests reported by the Florida Department of Health Friday, a number down from a record of 20% the day before.
Despite a toothless mask order ignored by large swaths of the population, including many with the comorbidities that lead to dire outcomes, the disease is spiking in Jacksonville.
The mayor, in quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure, has been an ethereal presence for roughly two weeks in the city, with last week spent on vacation and this week in isolation.
Curry, Zooming in from home, said the community was facing choices.
“Two extremely different voices have emerged,” Curry said, with one group wanting lockdown and the other a return to a pre-coronavirus normal.
“Anyone who thinks this virus isn’t a real threat … needs to understand that this community spread is real,” Curry said, noting he knows “many” who have it.
“Many healthy people who get it are experiencing an incredibly difficult time,” Curry said.
Leaders, Curry said, need to know “we must live with this virus until we get a vaccine.”
Curry faded out due to technical difficulties in the call, and Chief of Staff Jordan Elsbury took over.
There are 460 current hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, 82 in ICU, Elsbury said, before moving on to new testing sites. Four new ones, in Arlington, Mandarin, Regency, and the Beaches, will serve people next week as Jacksonville attempts to cap the coronavirus surge.
“There are no plans to roll back,” Curry said, noting that he is in “regular communication” with hospitals, which are able to handle the load because the current patient count needs less in terms of ICU occupancy than people back in March and April.