Mayor Lenny Curry said Tuesday the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases has dropped as compared to the city’s peak.
The mayor said 73,000 COVD-19 tests have been performed in the city with a positive test rate of 2.8% as of today, which he said is down from a peak of 6.3% on April 6.
“My team and I have heard the concerns of many residents who fear that the virus may be on the rise. That is not the story the data is telling,” Curry said.
The mayor told reporters that hospital capacities have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.
“We have flattened the curve in Jacksonville, which was always the goal," he said.
At the same time, the mayor admitted the number of new cases each day is trending upward as people are increasingly returning to work and other activities.
"And that was to be expected, as we know the virus is with us," he said.
He attributes the rise in new cases partly to additional testing.
Duval County saw a record 80 new cases during the past 24 hours, pushing the total number to 2,112, with 59 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.
“If some in media are suggesting that we should be quarantining because there’s positive cases in our city, that suggestion is ridiculous," the mayor said.
Jacksonville Chief of Emergency Preparedness Steven Woodard also spoke at the news conference, saying that the state-run COVID-19 testing site at TIAA Bank Field's Lot J would soon be moved, although he didn't announce the new location.
“We’ve conducted over 25,000 tests there. So we’re working with the state to relocate that to a convenient location, and that should occur in the very near future.”
The line for Lot J COVID-19 testing is stretching down toward the Matthews Bridge, and it was even longer earlier this morning. By far the most packed it’s been in weeks @WJCTJax pic.twitter.com/gKXmTJ2wGV— Sky Lebron (@SkylerLebron) June 16, 2020
The site will be moved as the city prepares to host part of the Republican National Convention in late August.
Curry also addressed questions about the safety of having a potentially packed convention during the pandemic.
He said health safety protocols would be in place but did not get into specifics about what might change if the pandemic worsens in Jacksonville.
“We're not going to put people at risk if conditions change. But right now, we're planning with the data points that we have, and that is to have the proper protocols coming in for testing, for temperature checks. And once you get in the building to have the proper protocols in place to keep people safe. So that's where we are at this point in time," he said.
The mayor reiterated that the cost of the convention would be funded by a private host committee.
“The city will have some responsibility for public safety, which is a reimbursable expense from the federal government," he said.
The mayor also said his administration is working with City Council to provide assistance to Duval County residents who face disconnection of utility services. He said details on that program would be forthcoming later this week.