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Mayor: 'Unrealistic To Just Postpone Everything' Due To COVID; Duval Deaths At 87

COVID-19 testing operations at the Lot J site at the sports complex will be ending Wednesday at 6 p.m.
COVID-19 testing operations at the Lot J site at the sports complex will be ending Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Mayor Lenny Curry has completed his 14-day self-isolation after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Returning to City Hall, the mayor hosted a virtual news conference in which he said local hospital CEOs have assured him if the county experiences a rise in the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations, they’ll be ready.

“They're ready to take action and increase their bed space and availability for patients,” Curry said, reminding reporters that state-reported ICU bed capacity includes patients who are being treated for other serious medical conditions unrelated to COVID-19.

“Most people hospitalized today are there for other reasons,” Curry said.

At the time of this story’s publication, 21.6% of Duval County’s ICU beds were available. Overall, the county had 886 unused hospital beds, or 22.9% of all hospital beds free, according to the state’s Agency For Health Care Administration.

The mayor also made it clear he wants kids to head back to school, trusting that Duval County Public Schools will “safely and responsibly open our schools.” The district announced its revised reopening plan earlier in the day.

“I understand the fear and anxiety many parents, teachers and administrators are experiencing, but is unrealistic to just postpone everything until the vaccine is developed. That could take months or years,” Curry said, expressing a similar sentiment about the possibility of shutting down businesses again.

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He also addressed questions about Jacksonville’s part of the Republican National Convention, saying “tens of millions” of dollars have been raised by private organizations.

Related: More Local, State And National Election News

Curry added he and the Jacksonville 2020 RNC Host Committee are continuing to monitor the health situation in regards to the convention but gave no indication that it might be scaled back or canceled, as some have called for.

“We’ll plan accordingly based on hospitalizations, the community spread, etcetera,” he said.

The mayor also mentioned that the federal COVID-19 testing centers at First Coast High School and Franklin H. Peterson Academies of Technology that were originally scheduled to close Wednesday, July 15, will now remain open daily until 6 p.m. on Friday, July 17; while Lot J testing operations will be ending Wednesday, July 15, at 6 p.m. The Lot J location is being replaced by the previously announced location at Regency Square Mall. Additional details about these testing sites and others are available on the city’s COVID-19 testing information page.

Curry continued to stress the importance of wearing face masks, practicing good hygiene, and practicing social distancing.

Related: Statewide And County-By-County Breakdown Of COVID-19 Cases

At the time of this story’s publication, Jacksonville had 13,724 total COVID-19 cases with 87 deaths. There were 432 hospitalizations currently reported due to the virus in the county, according to the Florida Department of Health.  On Monday, July 13, there were 355 new Duval County cases reported, as compared to 45 cases reported a month ago on June 14.

The state of Florida saw 9,261 new cases confirmed on Monday, as compared to 766 new cases a month ago on June 14. 

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit .