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COVID cases locally increase, community spread likely

The Steel Bridge Road boat ramp later Friday afternoon. The area was cleared by deputies of a few hundred people the next day due to the threat of the virus.

By Tuesday, March 31, Baker County reached nine confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, seven at long-term care facilities, with the latest being a 24-year-old woman who tested positive March 29 after having contact with another confirmed case, according to the Florida Department of Health update issued that morning.

At the same time last week, there were four cases in the county, all confirmed by Macclenny Nursing and Rehab to be at its facility.

Susan Kaar, vice president of its parent company, the first reported case in the county was a patient transferred in from a hospital who tested positive for the new coronavirus upon arrival and was soon transferred out. There have been two hospitalizations here as a result of the virus, the Florida Department of Health’s virus data shows.

But with two cases beyond those at local nursing homes, the virus appears to be spreading in the community as well. FDOH-Baker has declined to identify the locations of newly-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a request for the total number of cases at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab was met with the same response — to protect the privacy of patients, the location information is not being released publicly.

Jordan Duncan, the emergency preparedness planner for FDOH-Baker, continued to urge all Baker County residents to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control regarding social distancing, hand washing and self-isolation for 14 days if sick.

After three days and four new confirmed cases here March 24-26, Baker County went two days without new cases before two days with two new cases on March 30 and then March 31.

Details on the other eight cases identified here, none of which were related to travel, per FDOH:

• An 82-year-old male who had contact with a confirmed case of the COVID-19 tested positive March 29.

• A 97-year-old female tested positive March 26. Unknown if she had contact with a confirmed case.

• A 79-year-old male tested positive March 26. Unknown if he had contact with a confirmed case.

• A 55-year-old female tested positive March 25. Unknown if she had contact with a confirmed case.

• A 64-year-old female who had contact with a confirmed case of the COVID-19 tested positive March 24.

• A 76-year-old male who had contact with a confirmed case of the COVID-19 tested positive March 22.

• A 66-year-old male tested positive March 22. Unknown if he had contact with a confirmed case.

• An 87-year-old female tested positive March 22. Unknown if she had contact with a confirmed case.

Seventy-five people in Baker County were tested for COVID-19 with nine positive results, or 12 percent.

Joel Addington