Gov. Ron DeSantis returned Tuesday to Jacksonville, the city that has been the national epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in recent weeks.
DeSantis had three calls with Mayor Lenny Curry in the week leading up to the briefing Tuesday, a tacit public recognition of how the crisis has hit Duval County particularly hard.
But in comments to reporters Tuesday at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, DeSantis emphasized the positive, and suggested that if trends are “durable,” the worst could be over of a “summer wave.”
“We’re happy with seeing those trends, and we think they’re likely to continue doing that,” he said, at a press conference perhaps most notable because the virus-positive Sheriff was removed from plans at the last minute.
The Florida Times-Union reported Tuesday night that Sheriff Mike Williams no-showed the press event at the Sheriff’s Office because of testing positive for the virus despite being fully vaccinated.
Williams, who started with the department in 1991, is currently experiencing minor symptoms and recovering at home, the department told the T-U. His is a “breakthrough” case of the virus since he received the full complement of a vaccine prior to his testing positive, the Sheriff’s Office said.
DeSantis said the seven-day average for Duval County decreased 18% since July 31. Emergency room visits in Duval County for COVID-like illnesses were down 14%. And the (retransmission) value is now .83, “which means you’re likely to see a decline.”
“So those are all the leading indicators in terms of what you’re looking at,” DeSantis said, “and I think that fits with these cycles (that) typically go six to eight weeks. Duval and Northeast Florida started rising earlier than the rest of the state, I’m seeing that nose over.”
“If those trends are durable, you’ll absolutely see the hospital census reflect that for sure,” DeSantis said, saying there was a “flattening” statewide.
The Governor continues to subscribe to the “summer wave” way of thinking, noting that Duval exceeded last year’s numbers this year.
He expects the virus to stay in play, but it’s not all bad. He notes that when vaccinated people test positive it’s “usually like a cold almost.”
“We know that, and it’s just something you’re going to have to deal with,” DeSantis said of the unlikelihood that the virus can be eradicated.
There are some positive metrics week over week in data provided to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The seven day rolling average of daily cases continues to decline, down 2.23% over the previous seven days, but still close to 1,200 new cases a day.
Two in five hospital beds house COVID-19 patients. ICUs are even more laden with coronavirus patients, with more than 56% of available berths occupied. Both those rolling averages are up week over week.