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Ongoing local COVID-19 updates: Baker adds 9 new COVID-19 infections September 22 to bring the county to 1425 cases in total; 66 hospitalizations total (+1) with 11 currently in care and 11 deaths

Updated September 23, 3:05 p.m.

Baker County remained in the single digits yesterday in terms of new COVID-19 infections here with nine to bring the overall county total to 1425 since mid-March.

The county added one new hospitalization related to coronavirus to reach 66 in all and 11 currently in the hospital. The pediatric case total increased by one to reach 70 in all. Among the new confirmed cases Monday were 13- and 18-year-old males and seven other adults age 30 to 73.

Frank Wells Nursing home also added another staff confirmed case to bring that figure to six compared to five the prior day.

Updated September 22, 1:35 p.m.

Baker County added just four new coronavirus cases Monday to bring the county's total since mid-March to 1416 cases.

Also Monday, COVID-related hospitalizations locally increased one to 65 but the number currently in care continued dropping to 11, or two fewer than Sunday.

Cases in local long-term care facilities inched up two to 39 in all. Pediatric cases rose by one to 69 in all and one additional staff at Baker Correctional tested positive to bring the facility's total to 43 cases, not to mention 568 inmates infected since the start of the pandemic.

Updated September 21, 1:42 p.m.

We're back in the single digits!

Baker County added just three new COVID-19 cases September 20, the lowest figure in 13 days. The new cases included a 57-year-old woman, male, 24, and female, 25.

Current hospitalizations dipped a bit to 13 from 16 late last week. However, two new confirmed cases were added to the county's nursing home total, Frank Wells reported five cases dated September 20 and Clair Winston House reported one dated September 19.

The county's correctional case total increase by two cases to 384, however no increase was reported at Baker Correctional. Northeast Florida State Hospital reported 18 staff and 13 patients were infected as of September 17.

Pediatric cases for Baker County increased by four since late last week to reach 68 in all since mid-March. A 12- and 6-year-old males was confirmed positive September 18 and a 14-year-old female the following day.

At least two students at Baker County High School have been self quarantining since last week after being close contact with confirmed cases.

Updated September 18, 4:38 p.m.

Baker County reached 1387 confirmed COVID-19 cases by added 15 new infections confirmed September 17 when more than 200 test results were reported to the Florida Department of Health for the county, leading to a 6.38 percent positive rate.

That's much lower than the 18 percent positivity rate for the county since the pandemic started in mid-March.

There were also no new deaths reported, so the fatality rate here with 11 deaths and at least 1387 infections, is less than 1 percent.

Among the 15 news cases, as has been the case in recent day, were more juveniles, ages 10 and 15. The total number of pediatric infections reached 64, up from 61 the prior day. That likely means a case reported previously was misclassified as an adult case and later corrected to reflect the proper age.

The positivity rate for juveniles here is 11.3 percent.

The median age for cases in the county is 38 years old.

One new correctional case in the county was reported to bring that total to 582, though figures reported by the state for BCI did not change day-over-day. The number of cases at nursing homes did not change day-over-day, either.

There was one additional COVID-19 hospitalization to bring that total to 64 with 16 patients currently hospitalized, or one more than the prior day.

Ongoing local COVID-19 updates: Baker adds 15 new COVID-19 infections September 17 to bring the county to 1387 cases in total; 64 hospitalizations total with 16 currently in care (one more than prior day)

Updated September 17 1:47 p.m.

Baker added 20 new COVID-19 infections on September 16 and the confirmed cases continue trending younger with median age moving from 39 to 38. Among the new daily infections were three juveniles, ages 14, 15 and 16 to bring the pediatric case total for the county to 61 infected. The 20 new cases added yesterday brought the county's total since March to 1372 cases, with 76 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last week, or on average 10.8 new cases per day.

In the past two weeks, there have been 133 new cases here, or on average 9.5 new daily cases.

There have been 63 COVID-19 related hospitalizations here (one new day-over-day) with 15 currently in care, or two more than the prior day.

Cases linked to correctional facilities rose by two day-over-day to 581, or 42 percent of the county's total. Those are likely at the county jail as figures reported by Baker Correctional Institution did not change day-over-day.

No change in daily case counts at nursing homes here were reported.

Updated September 16, 2020 2:21 p.m.

Baker County doubled its COVID-19-related death count in July compared to March, April and May, and very nearly tripled the death count for the first three months of the pandemic in August. The county is now up to 11 COVID-19 related deaths after going the first two-and-a-half months of the pandemic with just four deaths. See the full list by age, gender and date ...

Baker County's COVID fatalities per the Florida Department of Health daily update for Setpember 15: 66 Male  03/22/20, 77 Female  03/24/20, 71 Female 04/06/20, 72 Female 05/12/20, 77 Male 07/06/20, 79 Male 07/12/20, 85 Female 07/14/20, 75 Female 07/25/20, 73 Male 08/11/20, 82 Male Unknown 08/20/20 and 72 Male 08/25/20

Meanwhile, the median age of those becoming infected dropped from 52 years old to 39 years old, day-over-day; due to four 20-somethings becoming infected with the new coronavirus — males between 21 and 26 and one female age 20. There was also a 39-year-old female was also among the new daily cases reported.

The pediatric case total is up to 58, up two since September 13. Hospitalizations continue to increase with one additional day-over-day hospitalization reported but current hospitalzations have come down in recent days to a dozen, from 21 September 13 to 12 September 14 and 15, likely the result of discharges.

There were no recent changes in nursing home or correctional COVID-19 case totals. However, Northeast Florida State Hospital has not updated its totals online for several days now.

Upated September 14, 2:45 p.m.

The county added 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases September 13, according to the state's latest figures, bringing the total since mid-March here to 1329 cases.

Among the new cases was a 12-year-old female, continuing a pattern of new confirmed cases in all age groups. There have been 159 new cases here since September 1. There are 21 current hospitalizations and 57 in all here.

There have been 57 cases among local juveniles, or one more than the prior day.

There were new confirmed cases at Frank Wells and Clair Winston House nursing homes in Macclenny. There was one at each home and both were staffers.

Updated September 14, 12 p.m.

September 10-12 Baker County saw a small spike in new confirmed COVID-19 cases, including some among the very young and broke 1300 cases since mid-March, or roughly 5 percent of the county's total population.

The county's total hit 1318 September 12 after seeing new daily case totals of 12 that day, seven the day prior and 14 the day before that.

New COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths in the county inched up to 57 and 7, respectively, in that time frame. An update from the state with yesterday's data is expected soon.

Northeast Florida State Hospital saw a spike from 42 cases September 3 to 59 a week later, including 27 staff and 32 patients. There was no change in figures at Baker Correctional Institution, though state data indicates two additional "correctional" cases, which could reflect positive tests at the county jail.

The number of juvenile cases is also rising, going from 49 on September 9 to 56 three days later. The latest cases included two 14-year-olds on September 10, an 8-year-old on September 11 and a 13-year-old the following day.

Updated September 10, 1:31 p.m.

The county continues to add new cases of the COVID-19 virus in the single digits with four added September 9 following seven new confirmed cases on September 8.

The four new cases were among 149 tests administered the same day to county residents, which resulted in the lowest positive test rate in at least two weeks at 2.61 percent positive.

However, the most recent cases have included several juveniles, which is unusual. Among the four confirmed Wednesday and reported today, were two boys age 10 and 13, a 46-year-old and 44-year-old female. It also lowered the median age of those testing positive here to 29 years old.

Franks Wells Nursing Home reported one new confirmed case of the new coronavirus yesterday, as did Baker Correctional Institution among staff. The state hasn't updated the case counts at Northeast Florida State Hospital since September 3, when a spike was initially reported there.

Updated September 8, 12:50 p.m.

The county appears to be back to adding new daily cases of COVID-19 in the single digits with two new cases on Monday and seven new cases on Tuesday, the latter group however includes the first infant to be infected here.

The others confirmed Tuesday were two more juveniles, ages 7 and 10, bringing the county's total juvenile infections to 49 in all; adult women between 23 and 48 and a 51-year-old male. Total infections since mid-March reached 1280.

Updated September 7, 1:02 p.m.

Baker County added two new COVID-related hospitalizations and 22 new confirmed cases of the new virus September 4-5 with September 6 data not yet released. A call to rescue just went out for someone who tested positive, a 59-year-old female complaining of not being able to breathe.

The virus remains in circulation here and elsewhere so public health officials urge you to stay home if sick, mask up when in public and keep six feet from other people. Many at Friday night's football game were not following those guidelines and customers at retail stores are refusing requests by employees to wear masks. Fortunately, curbside pickup and staying home to watch the game are both options when the Wildcats are at home. Word is that away games could be a problem if internet access is not available at opposing stadiums.

The number of cases at Northeast Florida State Hospital was up to 43 on September 3 compared to just five a week prior (August 27).

Update September 4, 1:32 p.m.

Baker's COVID spike slowed September 3 with 9 new confirmed cases (four in their 20s) to bring the county to 1237 case total; with 48 hospitalizations and six deaths.

The nine new cases came with 79 tests report for a 10.2 percent positive rate, much better than 41 percent on September 1. The county health department and school district have not responded to questions regarding what caused the recent spike in cases, that until yesterday saw new COVID-19 cases in the double-digits September 1 (up 48) and 2 (up 18).

Meanwhile, case counts have remained relatively level in correctional facilities, which were behind the addition of 575 new cases in the county in recent months.

The newly reported cases today include five females age 22 to 62 and four males age 21 to 46. There was also a 51-year-old woman who traveled to Georiga who tested positive, was added to the county's list of infected persons today, but the date associated with it was September 2. Typically, the cases reported daily reflect data from the previous day, not two days prior.

Updated September 3, 4:40 p.m.

The county continues to add larger numbers of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 daily with 48 on September 1 and 18 more September 2, including a 9-year-old boy, 17-year-old female and 19-year-old female. Nearly all 18 new cases, save five, were females.

It's unclear if the spike in news cases that began Wednesday is happening in schools, among faculty and staff, as the county health department, citing state orders, declined to share that data with anyone but the school district. We've requested that information directly from the district, which has referred such questions to the health department previously.

There was the first death reported at Baker Correctional Institution today, though that Florida Department of Health report is updated weekly rather than daily, and one new infection among the inmates was reported by the Florida Department of Corrections today. The county's number of confirmed cases at long-term care facilities, i.e. nursing homes, remained at 33 and the figure for correctional facilities, including the county jail, didn't budge today either.

Fortunately, the county's positive test rate came down from 41 percent to nearly 10 percent September 1-2, despite testing more than twice as many people.

The number of pediatric cases, those under 18 years old, inched up one on September 1 to 44 in all, and then up two more on September 2 for 46 in all.

Updated September 2, 12 p.m.

The county saw the biggest single-day spike in new confirmed COVID-19 cases in weeks at 43 new infections to bring the county's total 1212 since mid-March. While the last big spikes resulted from widespread testing in state facilities like BCI and NEFSH, counts there haven't jumped.

The new cases added September 1 were largely older residents but some in their early 20s and one 15-year-old.

The county health department is no longer releasing COVID-19 case counts for local schools but is still relaying that information to school officials, who in the past have referred such questions to the health department.

The Press also inquired today what caused the single-day spike in cases, as there was an increase in testing. However, fewer tests and more positive results shot the county's positive COVID-19 test rate above 40 percent for September 1.

Updated August 31, 12:35 p.m.

Baker County added 10 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, August 28 through August 30, as well as a new coronavirus-related death of a 79-year-old male confirmed on July 12 to bring the total deaths here to five.

The latest cases added by the Florida Department of Health here on August 30 were a 64-year-old male and a 69-year-old female.

The number of COVID-19 infections related to correctional facilities here inched up by two late last week to 572 in all, or about half of all cases in the county.

The number of confirmed infections at Northeast Florida State Hospital fell recently on August 27 to five employees and no patients, compared to seven days prior with 19 staff infected and two patients.

Updated August 28, 11:28 a.m.

The county's COVID-19 case count rose by seven yesterday, August 27, to 1143 in all since the pandemic began with one additional hospitalization related to the new coronavirus, day-over-day, bringing that total to 46 people.

Updated August 27, 3:10 p.m.

Five more adults tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in Baker County August 26, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) reported today, to bring the county up to 1136 cases since March 20 and 75 new cases in the last two weeks, when there was on average 5.3 new cases per day.

The cases reported today for August 26 included females ages 31, 50, 53 and 72; and a 22-year-old male.

The juvenile, or pediatric, total remained at 39; a good sign that the reopening of schools nearly three weeks ago did not lead to a large spike in juvenile cases.

The number of confirmed cases at nursing homes increased by one to 33 total on August 25 and remained there yesterday. However, the Clair Winston House, a small private assisted living facility, had two staffers test positive as of August 26, FDOH reports.

So-called "correctional" cases inched up by one on August 25 to reach 570 total or half of the county's total case count. Officials have said that figure includes cases at Baker Correctional (BCI) and the county jail, however; BCI reports its cases separately from the Florida Department of Health. The Florida Department of Corrections website lists 602 cases, 564 among inmates and 38 among staff, at BCI. Those figures have not changed in a few days.

The Florida Department of Children and Families website shows 21 COVID-19 infections at Northeast Florida State Hospital as of August 20 — 19 employees and two patients.

Updated August 26 12:10 p.m.

The county's reprieve in new confirmed cases of COVID-19 was shortlived as the Florida Department of Health added 14 new cases here on August 25 to bring the county's total since the pandemic began to 1132 cases.

Those being added in the last two weeks numbered 85, which is a good estimate on the number of active cases currently, as health officials recommend a 14-day quarantine period for those infected, and those who come in close contact with someone infected, defined as contact closer than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes.

Fortunately, there have been only a few cases connected to schools despite in classroom learning has been ongoing since August 10. None of the new cases added August 25 were under 18 years old. There were five men ages 18-to-72 and nine women ages 19-to-71. No new pediatric cases were reported. That total remained at 39 children infected in all.

Coronavirus hospitalizations rose by one to 45 since the pandemic started in mid-March. One new correctional case and one new long-term care center case was added since August 23.

Updated August 25, 11:55 a.m.

For the first time since June 23, Baker County added no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on August 24, the Florida Department of Health reported today.

That was more than two months ago and came alongside 32 negative COVID-19 test results.

Updated August 24, 4:03 p.m.

For the second time in the last eight days, Baker County had only one new confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus on August 23 — that of a 53-year-old male — to bring the cumulative total to 1118 and about 5.5 new cases on average per day during the last seven days.

The single new case follows six new cases on August 22, three new on August 21 and nine new on August 20.

However, the number of hospitalizations also rose by one on August 23 to 44 in all and the number of cases at correctional facilities like the county jail or BCI increased by the same margin to 569 in all or more than half of all local confirmed cases.

The number of confirmed cases at long-term care facilities remained static at 32 August 23.

According to new reports from the state regarding confirmed cases linked to daycares and schools, Baker County hasn't seen infections at daycares and seven among students or teachers here, though specific schools were not reported. The state is now verifying that data for rerelease after discrepancies surfaced Monday.

Updated August 21, 2:54 p.m.

Baker County's confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 1108 August 20, adding nine new confirmed cases, or two more than the prior day.

Hospitalizations inched up by two in 24-hours to reach 42 COVID-19 related hospitalizations. Infections at long-term care facilities here increased by one to 31 since the pandemic began with four at recently at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab.

Roughly half the cases have been connected to staff and inmates at BCI and the county jail. Correctional cases remained static at 567 day-over-day.

Among the nine new cases yesterday, all were age 45 and up. However, in the last two weeks, there have been at least five confirmed cases of COVID-19 among juveniles, or those under 18 years old.

Since schools opened nearly two weeks ago, there has not been a spike in reported cases of the new coronavirus infecting children. In fact, since schools reopened August 10 there have only been four new cases reported among those 18 and younger. They were between 16 and 18 years old.

Updated August 20, 11:55 a.m.

Seven new COVID-19 infections were reported by the Florida Department of Health today and confirmed August 19, which is about average for the last week or so in terms of the daily increase in new infections.

However, new hospitalizations related to coronavirus have been rare and there have not been new fatalities in the county in months. The death rate here is among the lowest in Florida.

The overall positive test rate is 17 percent though the daily positive rate yesterday was only 7 percent with 93 negatives and seven positives, five men aged between 31 and 61 and two women 67 or older.

The positive test rate for those under 18 years old between August 6-19 was 9.3 percent with 75 juveniles being tested in the period.

Correctional-related COVID-19 cases increased by two. There have been nearly 600 infections tied to Baker Correctional and some 30 or so to the county jail.

Updated August 19, 12:33 p.m.

Baker County's new daily remain low with only three added for August 18, two men ages 28 and 46 and a 32-year-old female, to push the county's cumulative total to 1088 confirmed COVID-19 cases since March 20.

One more person was hospitalized due to coronavirus to bring that total to 40 infections.

Two more correctional cases were added to bring that sum to 565 though cases in long-term care facilities remained static at 30 day-over-day.

Updated August 18, 11:40 a.m.

Baker County remains in the single digits in terms of new COVID-19 infections in recent days. The state update today added eight more to bring the county's cumulative total to 1086 since March 20, though roughly half of them were cases among staff and prisoners at corrections facilities here.

Among the eight new confirmed cases were four females between age 20 and 76 and four males between 21 and 72.

Updated August 17, 2:30 p.m.

The decline in new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in Florida and Baker County continued Sunday, according to state data released today. The last time that happened was two months ago on June 18.

Baker County added just one new confirmed case, that of an 18-year-old male, to bring the county's total count from March 20 until August 16 to 1078 cases, or about 3 percent of the county's population. Roughly half of them are cases linked to correctional facilities here, namely the county jail and Baker Correctional Institution. The total number of infections linked to them rose also by one case from August 15 to August 16. It's not clear whether it was a worker or prisoner who tested positive.

Baker Correction reports its counts daily on the FDOC COVID-19 website. Through noon today, the county was up to 562 inmates (an increase of one in the previous five days) and 33 staff (an increase of eight in that time frame).

The latest figures for Northeast Florida State Hospital were last updated online August 13 to reflect 30 infects, mostly among patients but three workers, too.

Updated August 13, 4:21 p.m.

Baker County added the fewest number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 since July 28 on August 12 with only eight new cases here — four men ages 19 to 88 and four females ages  42 to 92.

And the very steep decline in new cases yesterday and reported today came when 232 test results were logged for the county, for its lowest positive test rate since early on in the pandemic at 3.3 percent. The county's overall positive test rate is 17 percent but that figure is skewed by mass testing at Baker Correctional Institution in recent weeks.

Those cases reached 561 infections among inmates and 25 among staff on August 12. Today's update from the Florida Department of Corrections showed no change in the numbers since yesterday.

The Florida Department of Health reports that 53 percent of the county's COVID-19 cases are at BCI or the county jail and they totaled 557 on August 12. That figure was 554 the previous day, or an increase of just three. BCI's total didn't increase, so the three additional cases are likely connected to the county jail. The remaining new cases for August 12 county-wide — five cases — represent community spread of the coronavirus.

Northeast Florida State Hospital continued adding cases, however. The total there reached 59, 40 patients and 19 staff.

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 continued rising, however. Three more were added in the last 24 hours, which followed the addition of three other new hospitalizations in the preceding 24 hours, according to FDOH data releases.

The long-term care facility total held at 29 day-over-day. The numbers at local nursing homes didn't budget either at three.

There have 37 total cases among juveniles here or 11.6 percent of the county's total.

Ongoing local COVID-19 updates: Baker adds ONLY 8 new confirmed cases Aug. 12 after adding 74 new cases Aug. 11, correctional cases account for 53% of the county's 1052-case total; county reaches 38 hospitalizations (up 3 in 24 hrs.) and four deaths with three at nursing homes

Updated August 12, 1:06 p.m.

Baker County cracked 1000 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began on August 11 when it reached 1044 cases.

Seventy-four new confirmed cases were added to the county's total Wednesday but reflected data from the previous day. Almost all of the new cases were adult males, save eight females, one age 17 that almost certainly represents community spread of the virus continuing.

One-hundred-and-three test results were reported on August 11, and with 74 positive results, the county marked its highest positivity rate on record at roughly 70 percent. Overall, since the pandemic started, the county's positive test rate also reached a high of 18 percent.

The number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations rose by four to 35 in all. At local long-term care facilities, or nursing homes, the count was up to 29 in all, and three staff and patients at the two Macclenny nursing homes reported positive cases.

The correctional case total, reflecting confirmed COVID-19 cases at BCI and the county jail, reached 554 historically, or 53 percent of the county's historical count, on August 11. It was 491 the day prior, or an increase of 63 new cases. That leaves 11 new cases dated August 11 that represent community spread of the virus.

BCI reported it had 521 confirmed cases (499 inmates or roughly half of all inmates there and 22 staff)  as of August 11, an increase of 66 new cases since the prior day. That means the other 33 new correctional cases were likely connected to the county jail.

Updated August 11, 12:48 p.m.

Today's COVID-19 update from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) shows Baker County added 31 new confirmed cases on Aug. 10 after adding 25 new cases Aug. 9.

Confirmed cases inside state facilities here where many local residents are employed are also up day-over-day. Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 increased in the county by three from 28 to 31.

Cases in nursing homes increased overall by one to 28 since the pandemic began, according to FDOH's county-level report but its long-term care facility report showed three cases among staff and patients at Frank Wells Nursing Home.

Cases at Baker Correctional Institution (BCI) and the county jail, which comprise the county-level correctional figure reported by FDOH daily, reached 51 percent of the county's 964-case total since March 20 on Aug. 10, or 491 confirmed cases. FDOC (Florida Department of Corrections) reported 488 (466 inmates and 22 staff) confirmed cases at BCI, where no COVID-19-related deaths have been reported by the state, on Aug. 1o. The remaining three cases are likely at the county jail.

Northeast Florida State Hospital reached 59 confirmed cases, a slight dip from 67 a few weeks ago.

There have been a total of 36 confirmed cases among those under 18 years old here since the pandemic started. Nearly 12 percent of those tested in that age group have tested positive for COVID-19.

Among the 31 new confirmed cases reported for Baker County on Aug. 10, nearly all with adult males but three were adult females.

While the confirmed case count that day was higher than the previous day by six, it represents a dramatic decline compared to late last week when results from mass testing at the state prison resulted in hundreds of new cases locally.

Over four days, Aug. 5-8, the county added 98, 102, 197 and 80 new confirmed cases or 477 new cases during that period to explode the county's total case count.

Updated August 10, 11:30 a.m.

Baker County logged 25 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on August 9 after adding 80 new cases August 8, suggesting the massive increase in new cases, largely driven by mass testing at Baker Correctional Institution, last week may be coming down. 

Still, half of the county's 932 confirmed cases were linked to correctional facilities, either BCI or the county jail.

The county also saw one new hospitalization related to the new coronavirus to reach 29 in all since the pandemic began.

The 25 new confirmed cases from August 9 was the lowest single-day total in the last five days.

Among the 932 total Baker County cases, 22 were age 14 or under.

The total number of confirmed cases at BCI August 9 as reported by FDOC was 455, leaving the remaining 10 correctional cases reported FDOH at the county jail, presumably.

The county's overall positivity rate is 16 percent though on August 9 it was 33.8 percent.

Updated August 9, 12:38 p.m.

Baker added 80 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Aug. 8 after adding 197 new cases Aug. 7, both largely new correctional cases that now account for half of the county's 907 case total, up from 630 since Thursday, Aug. 6.

However, among the 80 new cases here Aug. 8 were two females ages 9 and 11.

One new hospitalization was added to reach 28 hospitalizations (up 1) and four deaths with three at nursing homes.

The county's correctional case total as reported by FDOH reached 452 for Aug. 8, up from 194 two days prior on Aug. 6.

FDOC reported today Aug. 9 at BCI there were 433 inmate infections and 22 staff infections, or 450 in all. Aug. 7 the total reached 254, or an increase over two days of 196 new confirmed cases at the state prison.

There have been dozens of infections at NEFSH as well.

Updated August 7, 3:44 p.m.

For the second consecutive day, Baker County added a record number of new confirmed COVID-19 infections at 102 additional cases on August 6, which followed August 5 with 98 new infections logged.

The dramatic increase in confirmed cases here appears to be mostly the result of mass testing at correctional facilities located in the county where many local residents are employed.

Still, the numbers are huge. The county's cumulative total confirmed cases reached 630 on Thursday with several hundred being added in the last few weeks and roughly two hundred in the last two days.

The state reported 260 total test results dated August 6 for Baker County, resulting in 102 new cases or a daily positive rate of more than 28 percent, the highest it's been so far in the pandemic. The overall positive rate for the county is up to 13 percent following more widespread testing of inmates and correctional officers.

However, not all of the 102 new confirmed cases were linked to the two correctional facilities in the county, Baker Correctional Institution (BCI) and the county jail.

Among the 102 new cases reported by the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) for Baker were those of two juveniles, a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old male, suggesting community spread of the new coronavirus is still happening as schools are set to reopen Monday.

BCI's positive cases are reported separately by FDOC and updated each day with current-day figures (FDOH data lags a day).

The number of BCI staff infected there increased by 24 from 18 on August 6 to 42 on August 7. The increase among inmates more than doubled during that time, however, going from 101 inmates infected August 6 to 212 infected by the next day, or an increase of 111 inmates infected. Combined among inmates and staff, the day-over-day increase was 135 new confirmed cases.

FDOH reports the county's total number of corrections cases but doesn't break them out among staff and inmates.

FDOH's count of confirmed cases at correctional facilities in the county on August 5 was up 44 to reach 106 cases but then it hit 194 confirmed cases on August 6 for a day-over-day jump of 88 new confirmed correctional cases.

And, since the confirmed cases increase August 5-6 for all of Baker County was 102 new confirmed cases, that would leave 14 new cases not linked to correctional facilities here, implying there were 14 new infections in the community reported for August 6.

BCI's data showed an increase in confirmed cases from August 5-6 of 82 more cases, which would put the county jail's portion of the overall correctional case increase August 5-6 at just six new confirmed correctional cases.

Updated August 6, 12:40 p.m.

Baker County set a record single-day high for new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday at 98, driven by 82 new confirmed cases at Baker Correctional Institution.

The Florida Department of Health data suggests a data dump of testing results on August 5 from prison testing. However, the cumulative total of "correctional" cases in the county, reportedly to include cases at BCI and the county jail, on Aug. 4 was 44. The following day that figure was up to 106, or a day-over-day jump of 62 correctional cases.

The Florida Department of Corrections reports BCI infections separately. Those totaled 37 Aug. 4 and 119 Aug. 5, or a day-over-day increase of 82 cases.

Still, the county's total day-over-day increase was an all-time high since March 20 at 98 new confirmed cases, suggesting the new coronavirus is spreading in the community and inside facilities that employ largely local residents.

August 5 also represented a record high in single-day tests at 253 with a positive rate also hitting a single-day high at 27.9 percent.

Stay safe. Mask up. Keep your distance. Sanitize and wash your hands. Stay home when possible.

Updated August 5, 12:36 p.m.

Finally, Baker County saw a day-over-day decline in the number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 with six new cases dated August 4 here, the lowest single-day new case figure since July 23. Three more correctional cases were added at the county jail Aug. 3 to 4, though the state's data doesn't differentiate whether those infections are inmates or staff. There was no change to the total at Baker Correctional Institution, which stayed at 35 cases Aug. 3 to 4. There were no new hospitalizations or new cases linked to local nursing homes.

Updated August 4, 12:21 p.m.

Today's FDOH update shows Baker County added 22 new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus August 3, ranging in age from 3 to 66. However, those new cases appear to be from community spread versus new infections at jails, nursing homes and the state hospital as case figures there were static, though the number of cases at NEFSH have roughly doubled in recent weeks to 67 as of yesterday.

Still, the day-over-day figures for long term care facilities here (27), Baker Correctional Institution and the county jail (combined 41) did not move.

Nonetheless, more than a dozen new confirmed cases continue to pile up at a rapid pace in the county each day. The trend in the last two weeks looks like a roller coaster. The 22 new confirmed cases added August 3 was the most in one day during the last two weeks.

Updated August 3, 12:27 p.m.

Today's update from FDOH showed 18 new confirmed cases here of COVID-19 between the ages of 30 and dated August 2. Fortunately, the hospitalization total remained at 26; however, the county's correctional count (we're working to find out what that means exactly) inched up by one confirmed case to 41.

The county's total case count rose to 403 in all August 2, up from 385 for August 1. The waning in cases at this time last week was short-lived. Stay safe out there.

NEFSH's confirmed cases have more than doubled in the last two weeks to a total of 67 cases of as today. About July 22, it was 33.

Updated August 3, 8:55 a.m

The weekend began on Friday and Saturday by adding 16 and 14 daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Baker County with an additional hospitalization (26 total) and more cases popping up at nursing homes and corrections facilities.

The county's total increased on August 1 to 385 cumulative confirmed cases compared to 342 on July 29.

Data on nursing homes showed that August 1 Frank Wells reported three new cases, two staff and one patient, and Macclenny Nursing and Rehab reported one new staff case. However, a county report listing cases on long-term care facilities showed 27. NEFSH was up to 33 confirmed cases several weeks ago.

BCI's confirmed case total reached 33 on August 1, including 18 inmates and 15 staff.

The county-level report from FDOH for Baker listed August 1 "correctional" cases at 40, up from 29 on July 29. Another 16 inmates were on medical isolation and 43 were under medical quarantine.

Updated July 31, 11:49 a.m.

Yesterday, Baker County's confirmed case count for July 29 was 342, up 13 from the day prior. Today, the case count for July 30 was 355, also up 13 more.

The "correctional" figure reported by FDOH but disputed by Sheriff Scotty Rhoden, was up to 33, which is four more than the day before. Meanwhile, at BCI, the only other correctional facility in the county besides the county jail, reports 17 positive tests as of July 30 at noon. The figure should be updated later today.

Mask wearing remains spotty at local retailers, however. Even as stores post signs on doorways that masks are required, the mandates are not being enforced.

One clerk, asked if that was a new trend, said no. They said about half of the store's customers since the pandemic began until now have masked up.

The 13 new cases reported today came with 202 test results countywide, which dropped the daily positive rate to 6 percent, the lowest in 10 days.

Updated July 30, 3:54 p.m.

On July 29, Baker County added 13 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, eight more labeled "correctional" by the state but disputed by Sheriff Scotty Rhoden, to reach 342 since March, including 25 hospitalizations and four deaths with three fatalities at nursing homes.

Sheriff Rhoden said as of today only one employee of the sheriff's office was out with COVID-19, there were two inmates who tested positive and a handful of other employees have all returned after being out as well. FDOH reported 29 "correctional" cumulative cases in Baker County through July 29, eight more than reported on July 27.

Since July 27, BCI added four more inmates to those under medical isolation for showing symptoms, according to FDOC. There were no new positive cases reported, however, since that date.

The youngest cases in the county added yesterday were a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy.

The previous day, July 28, saw seven new confirmed cases added among 43 tested for a 14 percent daily positive test rate. That figure was up to nearly 17 percent on July 29 and 25 percent on July 27 when 10 new confirmed cases were reported by the Florida Department of Health here.

Also on July 29, Macclenny Nursing and Rehab and Frank Wells Nursing reported two positive staff members each and the latter a positive resident transferred out. Yet, FDOH figures for Baker County show the cumulative total of cases on at "long-term care facilities" didn't change, remaining at 27.

Updated July 29, 2:06 p.m.

Baker added seven new confirmed cases July 28 (6 at jail) to reach 329; 25 hospitalizations and four deaths with three at nursing homes.

Updated July 28, 6:25 p.m.

After a large spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Baker County over the weekend, the confirmed case counts began dropping early this week.

July 27 saw 10 new confirmed cases as young as 9 years old added to the county's total, which reached 322 since March 20 and more than 130 new cases in the last two weeks. In just three days — Friday, July 24 to Sunday, July 26 — the county added 44 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. And it's been more than a month since Baker County did not add multiple COVID-19 cases on a daily basis.

COVID-19 continues spreading inside nursing homes, at the county jail and Baker Correctional Institution. The number of confirmed cases at long-term care facilities rose by one to 27 in all on Monday while the figure at county jail rose by two to reach 21 in all. Macclenny Nursing and Rehab reported two staff members testing positive that day and one patient testing positive at Frank Wells Nursing Home was transferred, state reports show.

The Florida Department of Corrections reported Tuesday that two more staff tested positive to bring that group's total to 13 in all while the number of inmates testing positive remained at four. Three more inmates were placed on medical quarantine to bring that figure to 11 inmates. The number of inmates on medical quarantine dropped slightly by nine to 385.

Updated July 27, 12:00 p.m.

The county added a whopping 44 new confirmed cases over three days July 24-26, the state reported today. The most came on July 24 with 19 cases confirmed added, followed by 15 additional cases on July 25 and 10 more on July 26.

The latter group included several juveniles age 10 to 16.

The county's positive test rate overall is up to 8 percent with some days see hundreds of tests administered to local residents.

The number of confirmed cases at long-term care facilities here increased by five July 23 to July 26. The number at the county jail remained steady at 19.

The number at BCI reached four inmates and 11 staff, increases since July 23 of one additional inmate and three additional staff. The number of inmates on medical quarantine for close contact with a confirmed case or symptoms jumped from 300 to 396 and the number on medical isolation increased by five to seven inmates compared to three days prior. Those testing positive are placed in isolation.

At NEFSH, there have been at least 33 confirmed cases, though the state doesn't update the counts there online regularly.

Given the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus, the health department is stressing continued precautions, like wearing face masks, keeping six feet away from people, not attending gatherings of more than 10 people, constantly washing or sanitizing hands, not touching your face and staying home when possible.

Updated July 24, 3:39 p.m.

The state reported nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Baker County on July 24, reflecting test results from the previous day when 87 test results came back on people here, resulting in a single-day positive rate of 9.4 percent, or slightly above the 7 percent rate since the pandemic started.

Five of the nine confirmed new cases were under the age of 25.

However, the daily confirmed case counts have remained at 9 or less for the last four days, after several days of double-digit increases each day.

At BCI, another inmate has been placed in medical isolation for having symptoms or being suspected of having the virus, bringing that figure to two prisoners. Meanwhile, the number under medical quarantine for showing symptoms of the virus or having contact with someone infected shot up to 300 inmates from 227 the previous day. A new staff member tested positive as well, bringing that total to eight.

Macclenny Nursing and Rehab reported that two staff there tested positive.

Updated July 22, 4:31 p.m.

Just three new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus were reported in Baker County today reflecting positive tests from July 21. There were 66 tests logged that day with three positive or a rate of 4.3 percent positive. It was the lowest daily positive test rate since July 10.

The overall positive test rate is 7 percent for Baker County.

The latest infections hit two females, ages 33 and 39, and a 58-year-old male. The county jail is up to 19 cases (one new) among staff and inmates. BCI's confirmed cases rose by three, all among staff, to reach seven staff in all and two inmates (no change).

NEFSH is reporting 33 confirmed cases there.

Macclenny still has the most cases reported at 152 since March 20, compared to 43 in Glen, 30 in Sanderson, one in Olustee and 24 "missing" a location.

Updated July 21, 11:28 a.m.

Two days with six new confirmed cases each on July 19 and 20 brought Baker County's tally to 245 since March. The ages ranged between 20 and 65 and included five females and seven males.

The number of suspected cases at Baker Correctional Institution shot up to 169 among inmates yesterday. A week ago it was just 52. The figures represent inmates with symptoms or who had close contact with a confirmed case. The number of staff infected rose by one to four in all in that time.

The county's overall positive test rate inched up to 7 percent, though no new hospitalizations were reported through July 20. There have been 14 confirmed cases among juveniles, who have a positive test rate locally of 8 percent.

There have also been new confirmed cases among staff at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab. A state report showed five positive staff at the facility on July 20. Frank Wells also transferred out a positive resident that day, the report states.

Updated July 20, 8:48 a.m.

July 18 added 12 more confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus here, which has become typical in recent weeks. Testing is pretty wide-spread with some days seeing more than 100 test results. However, there is no correlation between the increase in testing and much the larger increase in cases.

Baker County's confirmed case total reached 231 July 18 with July 19 numbers due to be released later this morning.

Four new cases at the county jail were reported as well on July 18 to reach 17.

Updated July 19, 10:15 a.m.

Baker County's growth in COVID-19 confirmed cases slowed to four new confirmed cases on July 17, after adding more than a dozen in the two preceding days. The county's cumulative total since the pandemic began was 219 confirmed cases. The last 14 days accounted for 117, or more than half the total.

Hopefully, they're all quarantining. There is no public mask mandate in place in Florida or Baker County, though some retailers here are now mandating them. A well-attended political fundraiser Friday night distributed masks at the door and a portion wore them for most of the event while many did not.

The county jail total reached 13 on Friday, up three since July 13. The long term care facilities here reached 21, up one since July 13, and COVID-19 related hospitalizations inched up to 24, three new since July 14, and deaths remained static at four here.

The positive test rate overall for the county is about 6 percent but it's higher for juveniles at 8 percent, even as schools set to reopen with COVID-19 precautions in place 22 days.

The number of inmates under medical quarantine for having close contact with a confirmed case at Baker Correction Institution ballooned to 169 on July 18 and three inmates were in medical isolation for showing symptoms or otherwise being suspected of being infected and were awaiting test results. There have remained two inmates with confirmed infections and the confirmed case total among the staff cohort inched up from three in recent weeks to four.

At Northeast Florida State Hospital, the total remained at 1, though it's not clear how often that figure is updated online.

Updated July 17, 2:46 p.m.

The county continued adding new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in the double-digits Thursday with a dozen more to reach 214 in all and 125 in the last 14 days.

The dozen new cases involved seven females between 16- and 79-years-old, four males between 22- and 69-years-old and one of unknown gender.

Stay safe. Wear masks. Physical distance. Stay home. Wash hands.

In some more positive updates, the number of tests administered on July 14 to county residents was 248 with 12 positive, or a positive test rate that day of 4.6 percent. It was the third-highest number of tests in a single day since the pandemic began.

Updated July 16, 11:25 a.m.

The spike is back. Yesterday saw 15 new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus here, including 11 females age  21 to 58, which brought the county's total to 202.

It follows July 14, which saw seven new confirmed cases, including five females age 28 to 85 and males age 21 and 46.

Stay safe. Wear masks. Physical distance. Stay home. Wash hands.

Updated July 15, 1:53 p.m.

The weekend spike is leveling here.

Baker County added six new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the second straight day July 14 to reach 187 in all since March 20 BUT 114 in the last two weeks; 21 hospitalizations (one new) and four deaths with three at nursing homes (no change).

Updated July 14, 12:46 p.m.

The number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in Baker County per day has slowed since the spike last weekend when the county added 39 (previously 40) new cases over three days ending Sunday with 11 new ones. Monday, the daily confirmed case total dropped to six cases and brought the total here to-date to 180 confirmed cases.

The six cases confirmed today but dated Monday involved males ages 25, 46 and 56; and females ages 23, 38 and 46. The overall positive test rate for the county remained at 6 percent.

The number of confirmed cases at long-term care facilities was up one to 20, perhaps reflecting the single case being reported at Northeast Florida State Hospital via the Florida Department of Children and Families COVID-19 website. The Florida Department of Corrections website shows no day-to-day change in confirmed or suspected cases at Baker Correctional Institution. There was also no change in the county jail total of 10 confirmed cases to-date.

There have been at least eight juvenile infections, including a confirmed case involving a 12-year-old male dated July 12.

Updated July 13, 12:37 p.m.

The weekend brought with it a continued spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Baker County. Over three days, July 10-12, the county added 40 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including a dozen both Saturday and Sunday.

The virus is infecting children, teens, adults and the elderly. The span in the ages of confirmed cases here goes from 1 to 97. A 1-year-old girl was among the 16 cases reported for July 10, the second-highest single-day count since the first case was discovered here on March 20.

Since July 10, the cumulative tally of cases confirmed at the county jail rose three to 10. The cumulative number at long-term care facilities rose by three as well to 19.

There was no change in the figures at Baker Correctional as of noon Monday.

Updated July 10, 12:40 p.m.

June 23, 2020 — that's the last day Baker County saw no new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus.

There have been new cases added each day since then for 16 consecutive days as of yesterday with the lowest number of new confirmed cases in one day coming on June 25 with two. But the average number of new confirmed cases here per day in the last two weeks has been more than six. There have been 88 new confirmed cases added to the county in that span or about 65 percent of the 135 confirmed cases reported here to date.

Nine new confirmed cases were added the county's tally by the Florida Department of Health. There were seven females ages, 27, 30, two age 46, 42, 45 and 40. There were two males, ages 19 and 81.

The county jailed added one new case confirmed dated July 9, bringing its total to seven cases, but hospitalizations related to the new coronavirus and confirmed cases at long-term care facilities here remained at 20 and 16, respectively, to date.

There were no new confirmed cases at Baker Correctional, where two inmates and three staff have tested positive. However, the number of inmates in medical quarantine because of contact with a confirmed case rose from 47 to 52.

The positive test rate here dipped from 6 percent to 5 percent since the pandemic began. The single-day positive rate was just 2 percent, however; following a record-high number of first-time tests administered at 433 with nine coming back positive.

The Press received a tip that testing was ordered for all employees at Northeast Florida State Hospital this week.

Updated July 9, 11:34 a.m.

Another update this morning from the Florida Department to Health shows Baker County added seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on July 8, compared to the previous day, reaching a cumulative total of 127 cases ranging in age from 1 to 97.

Four of the new cases appeared in Macclenny, two in Glen and one in Olustee (the first in that zip code). The age range for them spanned a 19-year-old male and a 78-year-old male.

In the last two weeks, there have been 72 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus here. There was no day-over-day change in the positive test rate, which remained at 6 percent through July 8. The single-day positive test rate that day was 12.2 percent compared to 17.3 percent the previous day.

The county jail added another positive test to reach six in all.

There were no new hospitalizations, which remained at 20 in all.

The statistics for Baker Correctional also did not change between July 7-8 at noon.

Baker County stats from FDOH.

Updated July 8, 12:52 p.m.

Baker County added nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 dated July 7 and verified this morning, which brought the total since the start of the outbreak to 120, per the Florida Department of Health.

Another new confirmed case for the county was reclassified here involving a 1-year-old boy and dated July 4. It didn't appear on the county's list until today.

The nine new confirmed cases from Tuesday involved females ages 26, 42, 39, 37 and 21; and males ages 41, 44, 18 and 26.

ER visit stats for Baker County from FDOH.

Macclenny added two more confirmed cases, bringing its total to 76, Sanderson added two more to bring its total to 22 and for those without known addresses doubled to eight confirmed cases.

The county jail added a new confirmed case to reach five total among inmates and staff. Two more coronavirus-related hospitalizations were reported to bring that total to 20 here and positive test rate for the county inched up yet again, moving from 5 percent to 6 percent overall. The positive test rate for July 7 was more than 17 percent, however.

Two inmates and three staff have tested positive at Baker Correctional Institution where the two inmates are in medical isolation and 47 others are in medical quarantine due to close contact with the positive cases or symptoms.

Updated July 7, 1 p.m.

Another day ... five more confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus tied to Baker County, ages 10, 20 and 80 for the females and 64 and 77 for the males. All five were dated July 6 and verified this morning, according to the Florida Department of Health.

It brings the county's total to 110 confirmed cases, 74 in Macclenny, 19 in Sanderson and 13 in Glen, plus four in unknown locations.

There have been 68 confirmed cases reported in the last two weeks.

The county jail added two new confirmed cases to reach four in all. The first two confirmed cases at the facility were employees, according to the sheriff's office.

There have been five confirmed juvenile cases here through July 2, but several others have been reported since including a 1-year-old on July 4 and a 10-year-old on July 6.

Three new confirmed cases were added to the county's list and dated July 5 — a 70-year-old male and 23-year-old male as well as a 77-year-old of unspecified gender.

The positive test rate held steady yesterday at 5 percent since the beginning of the pandemic. However, of the 15 test results submitted to the state from Baker County on July 6, five were positive results with four of the five being initial tests and one being a repeat test of a previously confirmed case. That resulted in a single-day positive test rate for initial tests of 25 percent.

Updated July 6, 1:20 p.m.

Today's update from the state on the spread of the COVID-19 shows Baker County added four new confirmed cases Sunday, July 5, which matches the new case total for the previous day and brings the county's total to 106 cases. On July 3, the county added 14 new confirmed cases.

The latest additions to Baker County's total were a 77-year-old male, a 70-year-old male, a 47-year-old female and a 23-year-old male.

Most of the cases here, 71, are concentrated in Macclenny (71), followed by Glen (18), Sanderson (13) and four from unknown locations.

Updated July 6, 9:50 a.m.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Baker rose dramatically on Friday with the most cases added in a single day since the pandemic started: 14.

While 68 tests were administered, per state data, on July 3 with 14 positive results, more testing is not necessarily driving the spike. Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens reported today that since June, Florida has seen a more than a 1000 percent increase in new cases while testing rose just 141 percent.

The spike July 3 was followed by four more positive tests here on Independence Day, including a 7-year-old boy, bringing the county's total yesterday to 102 with 18 hospitalizations and four deaths (three in nursing homes).

July 3 and 4 new confirmed cases reported by the Florida Department of Health:

07/03/20

58 Male
50 Male
63 Male
21 Female
19 Male
21 Male
47 Male
40 Female
28 Male
31 Female
57 Male
50 Male
52 Male
19 Female

07/04/20

7 Male
63 Female
73 Female
76 Female

Updated July 3, 10:59 a.m.

On Thursday, Baker County's confirmed COVID-19 case count rose once again, but by four cases, rather than seven the day before or nine the day before that.

The hospitalization rate held steady at 20 percent, or one in five confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. The positive test rate remained at 4 percent.

The county hit a high in testing on July 1 with 76 tests administered and seven of them positive. The four new cases came from tests on July 2, when 46 tests were taken.

Macclenny was up to 58 cases yesterday, Glen 10  and 13 in Sanderson. Three are unknown.

Updated July 2, 1:18 p.m.

Baker County's confirmed cases of COVID-19 on July 1 reached 80 when seven more individuals tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to the daily statistics released by the Florida Department of Health today.

The seven new cases were among mostly men — ages 23, 27, 32, 43, 57 and 76 — but also a 47-year-old whose gender was not known.

Hospitalizations inched up one more to 16 in total, which is 20 percent of the confirmed cases for the county. That means that one in five people with a confirmed case in Baker County has needed serious medical care while four in five survived without such care.

Deaths from COVID-19 here remained at four for the county.

There have now been several positive cases of the coronavirus at Baker Correction Institution. Its website shows 11 inmates under a medical quarantine, one in medical isolation and two staffers testing positive as well.

The county jail has fared much better with only two positive tests so far, one was a medical staffer and one was a corrections officer, said undersheriff Randy Crews.

Updated July 1, 12:15 p.m.

Baker County hit a single-day high for new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday when nine more people were found to be infected, ranging in age from 25 to 69; bringing the county's total historical count to 72 confirmed cases.

Hospitalizations here for the new coronavirus also inched up by two from 13 to 15 in today's report from the Florida Department of Health.

The nine new cases were mostly in Macclenny (seven) and Sanderson and Glen each added one new confirmed case.

The positive test rate remained a 4 percent here.

During the last two weeks (the recommended quarantine period), 36 new confirmed cases were added to the Baker County list.

Updated June 30, 1:06 p.m.

On Tuesday, Baker County was up to 63 confirmed cases — six new cases in one day — and one new hospitalization, bringing that total to 13 since March. It had remained at a dozen since late May. There have been four deaths with three at nursing homes; though those figures have been static for about two months.

The six new cases confirmed yesterday and verified this morning, according to FDOH, were assigned mostly to Macclenny (five cases) but one was assigned to Sanderson.

The county's positive test rate increased from 3 percent to 4 percent. It's higher for juveniles at 9.3 percent, or five confirmed cases among 54 people under 18 years old who were tested here.

The age distribution of confirmed cases here is fairly even for teens and adults. The fewest number of cases appear in the 85 and older range (three local cases) and in the age 5-to-14 range (two local cases). But the age range with the most cases: 15-to-24-years-olds have amassed a local case count of 11, just above the 10 cases in the 35-to-44-year-old range and the 10 cases in the 55-to-64-year-old range.

The median age for Baker County cases is 46.

Thirty-three antibody tests in the county have all come back negative.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, there have not been any positive tests at Baker Correctional Institution, though 17 inmates are under quarantine as a precautionary measure because they were recently transferred there.

Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson said today that planning is underway to reopen campuses to students on August 10 as scheduled while following all CDC recommendations to the extent feasible.

She said open house for incoming high school freshman and incoming middle school sixth graders will have traditional open houses, but the schedules will be staggered so only half of the class will be on campus for open house at the same time. Open houses will also be traditional at the K-5 grade levels.

She said masks will be optional but encouraged when physical distancing is not feasible. Hand sanitizer will be available and promoted throughout campuses and on buses. Masks will be readily available for teachers. She said the schools will be flexible in how they return to traditional in-person teaching and learning, but it remains the best option for children, parents and teachers.

Updated June 29, 11:30 a.m. 

On June 24, the county's confirmed COVID-19 case count was 44. Three days later, that figure jumped to 55 on June 27, per the Florida Department of Health's report Sunday morning. Today that number rose to 57 as of 9:25 a.m.

We'll update the total when new numbers are posted.

The confirmed cases Saturday (June 27) involved a 38-year-old male, a 20-year-old male, a 20-year-old female and a 19-year-old male who traveled between Florida and Alabama. Those confirmed Sunday (June 28) involved a 28-year-old male and a 24-year-old male, the latter case with travel between Florida and Tennessee.

The new cases are much younger with nine of the last 18 confirmed cases under 30 years of age and as young as 15. Most of the new cases popped up in Macclenny while Sanderson and Glen St. Mary added one or two new cases. Three cases remained without location data, while there were 38 cases tied to Macclenny, nine to Sanderson and seven to Glen. The positive test rate for the county remained at 3 percent.

Updated June 25, 2:06 p.m.

Baker County added two more confirmed cases dated June 24 — a 28-year-old female and a 25-year-old male in the Macclenny area — continuing the trend locally of younger cases and bringing the county's total to 44 cases since March.

Since June 19 there have been new confirmed cases found involving people ages 15 and 16, but the youngest case so far was that of a 10-year-old male.

The Press also received an anonymous report today of someone testing positive for COVID-19 at Walmart, though it wasn't clear if the caller was referencing an employee or customer or whether it was at the store or the distribution center, both in Macclenny, before hanging up.

A blood drive at the store today included anti-body testing of the donated blood but those results are kept private. The government, similarly, keeps COVID-19 test results private. If you have information regarding workers at Walmart testing positive, please contact managing editor Joel Addington. He's willing to speak on-record or off-the-record. His email: reporter@bakercountypress.com.

Updated June 22, 12:45 p.m.

The county's confirmed case count continues rising with 42 since the start of the pandemic. That's three more since Friday, two of them coming in Sanderson's 32087 zip code and one coming from Macclenny's 32063 zip code.

In the last two weeks, or since June 8, there have been 16 new confirmed cases, suggesting that's at least how many active cases of the coronavirus are in the community today. However, people with no symptoms may still be infected and spreading the COVID-19 virus unknowingly, which makes wearing masks in public very important in stopping its spread.

However, the growth in confirmed cases has sped up slightly in the last month or so.

Baker County registered five new cases in two days, June 15 and 16, which set a record here. Then four new more cases were added over two more days, June 18 and 19, and five more cases were added over two more days on June 20 and 21.

That's an average growth rate of 2.3 new cases per day over six days. The average growth rate for the same period in May — May 15 to 21 — was 2 new cases per day.

The latest cases are also trending younger in age.

The new confirmed cases on June 19 involved two females, ages 16 and 23, and an 11-year-old boy. Those confirmed on June 20 involved two non-Florida residents, a male and female ages 47 and 48, respectively.  Those confirmed on June 21, Monday, involved two men, ages 62 and 53, but also a 15-year-old female.

Updated June 19, 12:40 p.m. 

The new coronavirus identified as COVID-19 continues to spread in Baker County with four new confirmed cases announced on Friday as the county health department began distributed masks and conducting wide-spread testing by appointment (call 259-6292). It brought the county's confirmed case total to 39 on June 19.

The 35th case was confirmed on June 16 affecting a 43-year-old male. A female of the same age was reported infected June 18 and then three more impacting a 23-year-old female, 11-year-old male and 16-year-old female coming on June 19.

The last five confirmed cases were spread out in Sanderson, Glen St. Mary and three with unknown addresses.

The positive test rate for the county inched up to 3 percent from 2 percent.

Updated June 16, 1:55 p.m.

Baker County's COVID-19 case count spiked yesterday and today, June 15-16, to 34 confirmed cases, including a 10-year-old boy added Tuesday to the local count per the Florida Department of Health. The death count remained at four and hospitalizations at 12.

The case count by zip code: 25 in Macclenny, 5 in Sanderson and 4 in Glen.

The timeline for the last six confirmed cases: Case numbers 34 and 33 (45-year-old male and 57-year-old female) were confirmed on June 16, case numbers 32 and 31 (a 33-year-old male and 10-year-old male) was confirmed June 15; case number 30, a 38-year-old male, was confirmed June 11 and a 28-year-old male was confirmed on May 29.

Updated June 12, 2:40 p.m.

Baker County added a single confirmed case of COVID-19 on June 11, a 38-year-old male from Sanderson, according to the Florida Department of Health's latest report.

The last confirmed case appeared on May 29, a 28-year-old male; giving Baker County nearly two weeks and exactly 12 days with no new confirmed cases locally. The overall positive test rate remained steady here at 2 percent. In fact, state data shows 300 tests were administered since just May 30, with only the one positive result in the male from Sanderson.

The state has also begun releasing data on antibody testing in the state and counties. Twenty-two antibody tests were administered in Baker County with zero positive results. Data on juvenile test results show 49 tests for the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, were administered with no positive results.

Updated June 3, 11:53 a.m. 

Wednesday the Florida Department of Health added a fourth COVID-19 death to Baker County, reporting is was confirmed today. It involved a 72-year-old female who was confirmed to have the new coronavirus on May 12, the agency's daily update shows. It was the first COVID-19 death outside of a long-term care facility, or nursing home. The three previous deaths came in late March and early April.

Updated June 1, 10:52 a.m.

Another Baker County resident, a 28-year-old male, tested positive for COVID-19 to become the 29th confirmed case locally on May 29, the FDOH dashboard shows.

Geographically, there's been three confirmed in Sanderson (32087), 22 in Macclenny (32063) and four in Glen St. Mary (32040).

There's a 3 percent positive test rate here.

Over then days in March, there were nine cases confirmed, then 13 more in April and seven more in May, suggesting a slowing of the spread of the new coronavirus here.

Appointments for COVID-19 testing for Wednesday are being taken starting today by calling 259-6291 and asking for the COVID-19 call center, according to Jordan Duncan at FDOH-Baker. She said testing is also available on-site at local businesses and organizations, again by appointment only.

Local government offices also reopened to the public today, save the elections office and Taber library, with physical distancing precautions in place. The public is urged to continue accessing services by phone, email or online at the respective office websites; and only visit in person if necessary.

Updated May 28, 3:10 p.m.

Baker County's confirmed case total actually dropped down to 28 cases today. Yesterday, May 27,  the state's dashboard reflected two additional confirmed cases in Baker County as of May 26 and a total of 29 cases. Today the number of cases confirmed for May 26 was shown as one.

This has been a common critique of the Florida Department of Health. The data itself, as well as the format of the data, has changed over time.

Updated May 27, 11:50 a.m.

Baker County added two more confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus on May 26, bringing the total to 29, and four since May 12.

The 27th case was that of a 20-year-old and hospitalizations due the coronavirus reached 11.

Updated May 25, 12:15 p.m.

Baker County added another confirmed case of COVID-19 May 22, a 20-year-old, marking the youngest positive case here to date, state data shows.

There were no additional hospitalizations, however; and it was the first positive test since May 12.

Updated May 22, 12:45 p.m.

Baker County tested more people on May 19 than any day prior, according to the Florida Department of Health's data reports for COVID-19 updates.

Eighty tests were administered and none came back positive. There have been more than 850 tests administered here with 26 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the county, or a positive rate of about 3 percent compared to the same share in Duval County but about half the statewide positive test rate.

Then on May 20, Thursday, another 59 tests here came back negative.

Updated May 14, 4:33 p.m.

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Baker County for the general public begins Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the CVS in Macclenny but you must register in advance at https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing. The testing is available to anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, which the CDC now lists as fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat. You must be 18 or older to be tested. If you have no symptoms you may also get tested with a recommendation from the county health department.

Florida Department of Health-Baker on West Lowder Street in Macclenny has been testing first responders and healthcare workers this week but will open its drive-thru COVID-19 to the public on May 20 by appointment only in two, two-hour sessions from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. We'll have information on how to register soon.

Testing for the COVID-19 antibodies is available through Telescope Health and its app. Telescope's app can give COVID-19 testing recommendations and refer to a COVID-19 antibody testing location at Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp. The closest location is in Orange Park.

Updated May 14, 3:00 p.m.

Baker County's confirmed case figure rose to 26 on May 12, up from 25 since May 9, or one new case in three days' time. The latest person testing positive was a 72-year-old female from Glen St. Mary, which has had three confirmed cases, according to the Florida Department of Health. There were three in Sanderson and 20 in Macclenny.

Also on May 12, the state reported that one employee at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab had tested positive as of the previous day. It had two patients who tested positive as of the previous day. Frank Wells Nursing Home, meanwhile, showed one positive patient transferred out the day prior.

Of the 26 confirmed cases, only three were reported in the last 14 days — the typical quarantine period for those testing positive or who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive — in Baker County.

The CVS in Macclenny will begin drive-thru, self-swab testing for COVID-19 on Friday, May 15, the company announced today. You must register in advance and meet CDC and age guidelines. You have to be 18 years or older and have one of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat.

There are no out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing but health insurance will be accepted. For those without health insurance, the U.S. Department of Health will pay for the testing, a company spokesman said today.

Anyone can be tested at the Lot J testing site in downtown Jacksonville, whether you've had symptoms or not.

"Patients must register in advance at CVS.com beginning Friday, May 15 to schedule an appointment. Patients will be required to stay in their cars and directed to the pharmacy drive-thru window where they will be provided with a test kit and given instructions; a CVS Pharmacy team member will observe the self-swab process to ensure it is done properly. Tests will be sent to an independent, third-party lab for processing and the results will be available in approximately three days," the press release reads.

Testing will not take place inside the retail locations. Those will continue to serve customers and patients as usual.

Other new testing sites in the area include:

  • CVS Pharmacy, 3404 S.W. Archer Road, Gainesville, FL 32608
  • CVS Pharmacy, 50 Duval Station Road, Jacksonville, FL 32218

Updated May 12, 4:18 p.m.

Let's start with some good news today on the COVID-19 pandemic front — there have been no confirmed cases as yet at Baker Correctional Institution, which cannot be said of all state prisons. It's a big employer in Baker County and an outbreak there could spread quickly among officers and inmates.

Since the number of confirmed cases in Baker County reach 25 over the weekend, no additional cases have been reported. However, today's update has not been released yet by FDOH. It should be coming soon. And that has happened even as testing has increased with 39 tests and zero positive results for May 11.

The National Guard is also doing voluntary testing at Northeast Florida State Hospital, though one employee said they were likely infected back in December and recovered. More valuable, they said, would be a test for the anti-bodies recovered patients produce to fight off the virus.

It's unclear how long the immunity and anti-bodies persist, however.

Telescope Health is offering COVID-19 testing recommendations and COVID-19 antibody testing at Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp locations.

"It’s pretty simple, all residents have access to a physician through the Telescope Health app, and they’ll be told if they need testing and what type of COVID-19 testing they are eligible for," a press release from the company said.

Viral swab tests for COVID-19 are available at Lot J in downtown Jacksonville.

Updated May 11, 2020 9:42 a.m.

Macclenny added a new confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus over the weekend, bringing the state's count to 25 here. For those still counting, that's 20 in Macclenny, three in Sanderson and two in Glen St. Mary.

The latest confirmed case was that of a 23-year-old female. The county has a 5 percent positive test rate compared to 8 percent in Florida and 4 percent in Duval.

The last five cases came in May. The first 20 came in April and late March, suggesting that about halfway through May the curve has been flattened in Baker County.

Updated May 9, 2020 12:45 p.m.

Baker County reached two dozen confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus on May 7, a report released Friday morning by the Florida Department of Health. There were 19 identified in Macclenny, three in Sanderson and two in Glen St. Mary.

The county had a 5 percent positive test rate.

The two newest confirmed cases from May 7 were a 53-year-old  female and a 59-year-0ld male. The youngest confirmed case involved a 24-year-old from late March.

Updated May 4, 2020 9:48 a.m.

Though the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 data lags about 24 hours, the latest release on Sunday showed little change. Baker County had 22 confirmed cases after 420 tests administered and three deaths to a 66-year-old  male, a 71-year-old female and a 77-year-old female in late March and early April.

All three deaths were at nursing homes here.

The last five confirmed cases in Baker County trended much lower, however. Females ages 43, 57, 36, 27 and 38 tested positive, shows figures released Sunday.

The number of ER visits for COVID-19-like symptoms trended down near the end of April, as did those for influenza-like symptoms.

Three confirmed cases were at Macclenny Nursing Rehab as of Sunday and one was transferred out of Frank Wells. The former had two COVID-19 related deaths and the latter one.

Updated May 1, 2020 11:41 a.m.

Baker County added two more confirmed cases on April 30 as the state prepares to open up gradually beginning Monday. Governor Ron DeSantis from Jacksonville said state parks will open then.

The uptick to 22 total confirmed cases came on a day that saw the second most COVID-19 tests administered here at 22. There were 30 tests taken on April 25.

Macclenny Nursing and Rehab had three patients who tested positive on April 29 and Frank Wells transferred one out.

According to the state's dashboard, the two new cases were outside of Macclenny's 32063 zip code. Its number of confirmed cases remained 17 today. There were three confirmed cases in Sanderson and two in Glen St. Mary.

Updated April 26, 2020, 10:27 a.m.

Baker County has added three confirmed cases in three days. That makes 20 locally. Two of the last three cases were in Glen St. Mary's zip code and the third was logged in Sanderson's 32087 area code. The number at local nursing homes held at 12.

After eleven days with no additional confirmed cases, Baker County saw three females test positive over three days, ages 42, 57 and 36.

Updated April 24, 2020, 10:15 a.m.

The state's COVID-19 dashboard shows 19 confirmed cases for Baker County as of Friday morning. That's two in two days, April 22 and 23, after 11 straight days of no new cases. The flattening of the outbreak curve here proved to be temporary.

The last two cases were the first two outside of Macclenny, in Glen St. Mary on the 22nd and Sanderson on the 23rd.

The county's positive test rate is 6 percent with 315 people tested or about 1 percent of the population. Duval stands at roughly 5 percent.

Both new cases were females ages 42 and 57.

The number of cases at nursing homes in Macclenny remained at 12. That figure has flattened in the last week or so.

Hospitalizations are up to 8 after holding at 7 for many days.

Updated April 23, 2:12 p.m.

Baker County's latest confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported Thursday, bringing the county's total to 18 cases after 11 days without any new confirmed cases.

The 18th case dated April 22, a 42-year-old female from Glen St. Mary, was the first one here reported outside of the Macclenny zip code 32063 and the third youngest. Two other confirmed cases were on the younger side at ages 24 and 34.

The county has a positive test rate of 6% with 313 of the county's roughly 28,000 people getting tested.

The three deaths reported here were 77-year-old and 71-year-old females and a 66-year-old male.

The total here at nursing homes remained at a dozen.

Updated April 20, 1:00 p.m.

On Saturday night, the state released a list of nursing homes in Florida that have had confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus and both Macclenny Nursing and Rehab and Frank Wells Nursing Home were on the list.

The county's tally of positive cases remained at 17; however, the local death toll inched up to three fatalities. The total number of cases at local nursing homes remained at 12. The administrator at Frank Wells Nursing Home said Friday the facility had capacity for a COVID-19 ward, "if needed." He clarified there was no ward that day.

There have been 293 tests of Baker County residents.

Updated April 11, 4:51 p.m.

Baker County reached 17 cases of confirmed the COVID-19 virus, increased to seven hospitalizations, a spike, and remained at two virus-related deaths.

Health authorities appear to have visited both Macclenny Nursing and Rehab and Frank Wells Nursing Home on April 8. We're awaiting results from the state at this time. The number of cases reported by the state at nursing homes remained at 12, perhaps a sign the spread at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab might have been contained but the threat of spread in the community remains of high concern as new cases continue to emerge.

All the cases here were assigned to the Macclenny zip code.

The positive test rate in Baker County has dropped to 8 percent with 215 tests as of the 10 a.m. update today. Those testing positive range in age from 24 to 97 with a median age of 71. The gender split is roughly 60 percent women and 40 percent men.

Updated April 10, 2:15 p.m.

Baker County's COVID-19 tally remained unchanged today. And in more good news, it appears back up has arrived.

Federal authorities along with the Baker County Health Department conducted "a joint COVID-19 visit" at W. Frank Wells Nursing home and it appears from state records they "visited" Macclenny Nursing and Rehab Center on April 8 following complaints dated March 17, shows a state database for information on healthcare providers.

We've requested results of those inspections from the state's Agency for Healthcare Administration, or AHCA.

Updated April 9, 12:34 a.m.

The slowdown in new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida and Baker County was unfortunately temporary with cases spiking in both jurisdictions Monday. Then on Tuesday, the first death resulting from a confirmed case in Baker County was reported, a 71-year-old female, along with an increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations from two to three. By Thursday, Baker's total confirmed cases were up to 16 with the second death, a 66-year-old male, and a total of six hospitalizations related to the virus being reported by the Florida Department of Health.

All 16 cases are in Macclenny, the department's latest update shows.

The 66-year-old male was counted as a confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 22. The 71-year-old female who died was counted as a confirmed case on April 6. The latest reported case was a 34-year-old male counted as confirmed on April 8.

There appears to be community transmission of the new coronavirus in Baker County as there are cases being reported outside of long-term care facilities, also known as nursing homes. The case count there locally is 12. Remaining at home as much as possible is strongly advised. 

Here there have been 183 people tested for the virus with 16 coming back positive.

FDOH encourages you to fill out this brief survey of your actions regarding the virus.

Updated April 6, 1:04 p.m.

Baker County 's confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 13 today with nine at long-term care facilities. The latest cases were a 92-year-old female who had contact with another confirmed case (case 12) and a 69-year-old female (case 13), according to the last update from the Florida Department of Health.

There have been 136 people tested in Baker County with a local known infection rate of 9 percent.

Since the county's long-term care cases were at eight on April 2 and rose to nine over the weekend, the 12th case is likely at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab where the local outbreak began when a patient from a hospital was transferred there and tested positive.

But with 13 cases in all and four outside of such facilities, the virus appears to be spreading in the community where retailers remaining open are taking precautions and enforcing social distancing and sanitation guidelines. Other businesses are closing up or operating with minimal employees.

The 13 positive tests for the new coronavirus with no vaccine or anti-viral treatment yet represents a 9 percent known infection rate here compared to 11 percent statewide, where the number of new confirmed cases slowed for the first time since March 30 on April 3. They ticked up a bit on April 4 but dropped again April 5. If the downward trend continues in the coming days that would be a sign that the spread of the virus is slowing down.

Updated April 2, 1:16 p.m.

Baker County's confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 11 today with two new people testing positive April 1 — a 75-year-old female and a 64-year-old female without any known contact with an infected person. In all, there have been four males and seven females who tested positive here since March 20.

The number of positive cases on nursing homes in the county rose by one to eight today. Macclenny Nursing and Rehab confirmed the first four cases were at their facility. The state and the facility have since declined to identify where cases are popping up in the county, citing patient privacy. It's likely, however, some of the cases outside of nursing homes represent community transmissions of the virus.

Those infected in Baker County range in age from 24 to 97 with two hospitalizations. Ninety-three have been tested here with one additional test pending, according to the latest update from the Florida Department of Health.

Updated April 1, 3:10 p.m.

The governor issued a safer-at-home executive order today for non-essential workers and activities. See the update on COVID-19 impacts locally from this week's edition here.

Read Gov. Ron DeSantis' order here. It says elderly Floridians and those with underlying health conditions (the order lists the following examples: chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease) "shall stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19."

For others, the "safer-at-home" order says only essential travel and essential business may be conducted away from home. Workers who can work from home being ordered to do so. It includes federal guidance on what is essential and what is not by industry. But the list is not all-inclusive, leading to some ambiguity and confusion among the public.

Here's a pretty good list from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for guidance on essential versus non-essential workers: https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce

Updated March 31, 1:11 p.m.

Parents or guardians of students without access to computers at home can pick up Chromebooks for their students at their school sites on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For anyone who misses that window, they'll also be distributed on Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Missing or damaged devices will cost parents or guardians up to $250. There are many other rules regarding use of these devices. They can be found here and here.

March 30 saw a slight dip in new confirmed cases in FL.

The latest case count for Baker County issued this morning showed nine cases here, seven at long-term care facilities. However, Macclenny Nursing and Rehab confirmed the first four cases in Baker were at that facility. It said the first reported case in the county was a patient transferred in from a hospital who tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus upon arrival and was soon transferred out. There have been two hospitalizations here as a result of the virus, Florida Department of Health data shows.

New confirmed COVID-19 cases dipped slightly statewide on Monday.

With nine total cases here, that could mean two cases not associated with a long-term care facility represent those resulting from community transmission of the virus. The health department declined to confirm where transmissions of the virus are occurring but continued urging everyone to follow guidelines to halt the spread of the virus in this community — washing hands and using hand sanitizer early and often, cleaning often touched surfaces, keeping at least six feet from others, staying home if feeling ill, calling ahead to doctors offices when having symptoms of the virus (fever, coughing, trouble breathing) to get tested, and self-isolating for 14 days if you come into contact with someone who tested positive.

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.

Confirmed cases in Baker by date.

Updated March 29, 8:01 p.m.

From the FDOH update Sunday, Baker County had eight confirmed cases but at least six were in long-term care facilities, likely Macclenny Nursing and Rehab, which confirmed the first four cases itself. The eighth case was an 82-year-old male.

The total here rose to seven on March 27. As of Saturday, 51 people in Baker County were tested, for a 14-percent positive rate. It inched up to 15 percent Sunday.

 

 

The case details yesterday show the patients here range in age from 55-to-97 and it's unknown whether most, five of the first seven, had contact with a confirmed case. None of the Baker cases were travel-related.

 

 

This table shows that most of the COVID-19 infections are affecting older Floridians but children are being infected, too. One was hospitalized.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated March 27, 2:10 p.m.

Baker County's case count rose to 7 today.

Forty-two people have been tested in Baker County with seven positives and 35 negatives, or a rate of 16.6 percent positive. The positive test rate in Duval County with 85 confirmed cases is 7.3 percent.

Local testing demographics: Thirteen men and 31 women ages 5 to 97 have been screened for the COVID-19 virus. Two have been hospitalized, including the first case identified here at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab. It spread to three others at the facility, according to its owner. It's unclear whether the next three cases identified on March 23, 24 and 25 were related to the initial ones. A company vice-president declined to report the results of testing of all staff and patients at the facility.

"We understand your interest in knowing the test results; however the privacy rights of the residents and staff prohibit their disclosure.  The facility has been informed that the Department of Health will be managing and providing updates regarding cases in the community," said Susan Kaar, VP of compliance and quality management at Southern Healthcare Management, LLC.

Still, she said the staff there are committed to halting the spread of the virus there and described the steps being taken to that end.

"Our center leadership and staff continue in their vigilance to keep our residents safe taking significant measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The facility’s first resident was confirmed positive soon after being admitted to the center from a local hospital. Shortly thereafter, while monitoring residents, the center suggested testing two additional residents who appeared to be displaying signs and symptoms of COVID-19. After testing, those residents were transferred to the local hospital for further care and treatment.

"The safety of our residents and staff is paramount. As a proactive and preventative measure, the facility management decided to have all residents and staff tested for the virus. Early identification allows for better preparation in our ongoing effort to contain the virus, prior to the residents and/or staff having any signs or symptoms. This approach enhances our ability to further protect the residents and staff so any and all necessary care and services can be authorized sooner.

"We continue to collaborate with, and appreciate the support of, the local Department of Health. The facility staff continues to follow all CDC guidelines including adhering to all protocols for pre-screening residents prior to any admission, on-going monitoring of all residents, screening of staff, and maintaining compliance with infection control techniques and personal protective equipment recommendations.

...

"We want to convey our deepest concern for those who have been diagnosed positive for Covid-19.  Our thoughts are with them and their loved ones at this challenging time.  This pandemic is unprecedented.  Through it all the facility staff remains committed to doing everything we can to minimize the spread of this virus. "

How to get tested:

Anyone may be tested at the drive-thru site at TIAA Bank Field in Duval County.

"As for testing sites in Baker, we are currently in the planning process for a mass testing site and will keep you updated as more information becomes available," said the health department's Jordan Duncan four days ago (we're checking back with her today). "At this time, individuals who have symptoms should see their primary care physician (PCP) to be screened for the need for testing. If their PCP does not have the ability to test them an order can be given and brought to Baker County Health Department and we will conduct the testing. Individuals who do not have a PCP can call the Baker County Health Department to be screened for testing."

Setting up for distance learning at home for students starts Monday with materials and technology to be distributed at school sites on Wednesday and Thursday, said Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson this morning from her home in Glen. She said the district's roughly 5000 students were surveyed to find out what their needs will be going forward as classrooms are closed by order of the governor through April 15.

Updated March 26, 3:52 p.m.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide have drastically increased in the last day or so to 2355. There was 1171 just three days ago. Baker County logged its first five cases starting last weekend. Four of them were confirmed to be at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab.

Forty-three people in Baker County have been tested with 29 negative results, 9 pending and five positive.

Of the 43 people under investigation, 42 are Florida residents, one is not. They range in age from 9 to 97 years old, including 11 men and 26 women. None have died. These figures are from the state's online dashboard for virus monitoring.

Details released on Baker County's confirmed cases:

• Female age 87 with no travel history, unknown whether she had contact with another infected person and was counted on March 20 as the 50th case in Florida.

• Male age 76 with no travel history but contact with an infected person and counted on March 22 as the 51st case in the state.

• Made age 66 with no travel history, unknown whether he had contact with an infected person and counted March 22 as the 52nd case in Florida.

• Female age 64 was the 53rd case in the state with no travel history but contact with an infected person and counted March 24.

• Female age 55 was the 54th case in Florida with no travel history, unknown wether she had contact with an infected person and counted on March 25.

Updated March 25, 3:50 p.m.

Baker County is now up to five cases of the COVID-19 with 28 under surveillance. Four of the cases were confirmed to be at Macclenny Nursing & Rehab. All cases are ages 55 or over. Those being monitored are as young as 17, including nine men and 18 women.

Twenty-six people have been tested in Baker with 19 percent testing positive. Two more await testing.

The latest case was a 55-year-old female with no travel history.

No COVID-19 related deaths have been reported here though there were a handful in nearby counties.

The City of Macclenny is closing city hall to staff for one day a week, Fridays, to do deep cleaning and alternating staff time there on other days to limit potential exposure to the virus among employees.

Some essential functions will remain unchanged but accommodations are being made to protect staff as much as possible, said city manager Phil Rhoden. For example, firefighters are being asked to eat meals in the bay area rather than huddled at a table inside and both licensed water plant operators won't work on the same shift together.

Distance learning is expected to start Monday for K-12 students. At Florida Gateway, the spring semester will resume online as well.

"There will be no face to face classes on campus. Instructors and Student Support Staff members have been preparing and continue to prepare for these changes," read a press release issued today.

"To accommodate those students that have internet connectivity issues, the parking lot behind building 15 (cashier area) has been configured as a WIFI hot spot. That lot will be available to students in their vehicles from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students must stay in their vehicle while connected to the internet. Faculty in some classes are preparing material for students to take home with them. Those students will be contacted by those instructors.

"Please continue to check the COVID 19 landing page on the FGC website for the latest developments and information."

Updated March 24, 12:00 p.m.

Baker County is up to 4 confirmed cases of COVID-19 according to the 11 a.m. update from the Department of Health.

Updated March 23, 4:42 p.m.

Baker County got its first three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the last three days; all at Macclenny Nursing Rehab.

The sheriff's office is also focusing on arresting violent suspects and encouraging officers to file complaints with the state attorney's office against individuals accused of non-violent crimes during the pandemic.

From Major Randy Crews today:

"We have directed our deputies to use discretion and consider if filing criminal charges would be a viable option instead of effecting an arrest. Of course we will do what is necessary to keep our community safe, but limiting arrest to serious violent offenses is the responsible approach at this time. We have taken several measures to reduce the chance of  Covid - 19 from entering our facility and this is one of those. This also helps the court system, (judges office, state attorneys,public defenders office, and clerk of courts), who is also scaling back on normal work duties."

All county offices and city hall in Macclenny are closed to the public until further notice. The closure issued today effective at 5 p.m. includes the courthouse, elections office, tax collector's office, election's office and others. Full list here with phone numbers for contacting the county departments.

FDOH-Baker's Jordan Duncan said today that Baker County residents can get tested for COVID-19 at the mass testing center at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville and a mass testing site is being planned locally as well.

"Currently there are two sites setup in Duval County for testing," she said by email. "One at TIAA Bank Field, the other at Prime Osborne Convention Center. The Prime Osborne one is through Baptist and Telescope Health and is open to Duval residents only. The one at TIAA Bank field is a federal site open to residents of any county.

"As for testing sites in Baker, we are currently in the planning process for a mass testing site and will keep you updated as more information becomes available. At this time, individuals who have symptoms should see their primary care physician (PCP) to be screened for the need for testing. If their PCP does not have the ability to test them an order can be given and brought to Baker County Health Department and we will conduct the testing. Individuals who do not have a PCP can call the Baker County Health Department to be screened for testing."

Baker County had its first three confirmed COVID-19 cases Saturday, Sunday and Monday, respectively, according to the FDOH COVID-19 dashboard. On Saturday Macclenny Nursing and Rehab confirmed one case there and confirmed Tuesday all three of Baker County's current cases were from the facility.

The Florida Department of Health-Baker began conducting a contact investigation to determine who needs to self isolate and monitor their health for the next 14 days.

The first case involved an 87-year-old woman, according to the state health department.

"We fully recognize how difficult this time is for our three residents that were confirmed with COVID-19; which have been transferred out to the local hospital for further care and treatment," read a statement from Susan Kaar, vice president at Southern Healthcare Management, LLC, which owns the facility. "Our thoughts remain with those residents and their loved ones at this challenging time.

"The department of health will be providing updates moving forward specific to cases throughout the community. Our center remains focused on taking every precaution to minimize the spread of the virus to our residents and staff.

"Our team of dedicated health care professionals continue to monitor every resident, have on-going communications with the local health department and state agencies, and are taking every effort necessary in an attempt to minimize the spread of this dangerous virus. This includes restricting visitors, having our health care team don masks and use gloves in accordance with regulatory guidance. We also continue to follow CDC guidelines and adhere to all protocols for pre-screening residents prior to any admission, infection control techniques and personal protective equipment recommendations.

"We continue working in conjunction with all appropriate authorities, we are doing everything we can to minimize the risk of exposure to all of our residents and our staff and will continue to take every effort necessary until the coronavirus threat has subsided."

The cases at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab were not confirmed to be travel-related, so community transmission may be how the first patient here was infected.

"The local DOH is conducting contact investigation at this time and will be notifying individuals with contact who will need to self-isolate and self-monitor for the next 14 days," said Mrs. Duncan on Saturday. "The Baker County Health Department continues to recommend social distancing, avoiding gatherings larger than 10 people, staying home when you are sick, and frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer."

Then Sunday another case was reported here by FDOH, a 66-year-old male. On Monday a third case was reported, a male age 76 with contact with another confirmed case of COVID-19.

Sixteen people in Baker have been tested for the virus with 13 negative results, three positive and two more awaiting testing, according to the daily update from the state health department.

Macclenny City Hall also closed to the public Monday and encouraged city business be done over the phone, by email or via the drop box outside.

Today, total cases in Florida reached 1171, or a 78 percent increase. Statewide the number of confirmed cases rose to 658 on Sunday, or by 38 percent in the prior 24 hours day or roughly the same increase as the previous day.

State parks also closed on Monday. The Osceola National Forest closed Sunday.

Updated March 20, 2020 4:00 p.m.

The number of confirmed cases in Florida residents reached 474 this morning, up from 354 since 24 hours earlier, though the total number of positive tests in the state reached 520, up from 390 yesterday morning.

Eight people in Baker County have been placed under investigation and tested with six negative results and two with no results, as of the 9:55 a.m. update from FDOH. However, the mayor of Glen St. Mary, Morris "Dickie" Foster, has been tested and is awaiting results, said vice mayor Amanda Hodges today. The number of positive tests reported by FDOH this morning was zero.

Covid-19-data-daily-report-2020-03-20

FDOH in Duval County has been testing many more people with a 10 percent positive test rate. There are 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the new coronavirus spreading across the world and killing thousands, in Duval County with one death.

The governor closed down restaurant dining rooms, though they can still make orders for delivery and take out. Calendar's in Macclenny is still open and a staffer there said they are working on setting up delivery service, including alcohol. Governor Ron DeSantis also closed all gyms and fitness centers.

Alachua County had the second-highest in the region at 12 confirmed cases but no deaths. Clay and St. Johns counties have four confirmed cases each and Nassau had one.

FDOH reported there were more than 2500 people being monitored and more than 3400 under investigation statewide.

Plus, the federal tax filing deadline was extended through July 15.

Florida Department of Ag and Consumer Services is closing through April 19, an update sent out today said. "Closures include all FDACS regional offices and all Florida Forest Service day-use areas, campgrounds, and recreation areas. All interdiction stations remain open and operational. Essential personnel such as Florida Forest Service wildland firefighters and Agricultural Law Enforcement officers will continue serving in the field while practicing social distancing," it read.

Small businesses, including those in the ag industry, can apply for disaster loans here: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.

"There is currently no evidence that domestic animals, such as livestock and pets, can spread or contract COVID-19 infection," read the FDACS release.

The county commission may meeting via conference call on April 7, 2020, said interim county manager Sara Little, in response to the governor suspending state laws requiring in-erson quorum's (a minimum number of board members to be present) before public business can be conducted.

State parks have halted group activities but individuals visitors are still permitted at state parks. From the Florida Parks Service website: "All events, activities, special event reservations, pavilion rentals and camping/cabin reservations at Florida State Parks have been canceled for the next 60 days. Most Florida State Parks remain open for day use; however, hours of operation have been reduced to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m."

Timacuan Perserve and Fort Matanzas in North Florida have closed. Campgrounds at the Osceola National Forest are closing tomorrow.

Updated: March 19, 5:15 p.m.

The state is releasing daily COVID-19 case counts by Florida county; including details about each case like age, sex, whether the case was related to travel or contact with another confirmed and more. Today's list is here.

Florida is up to 354 confirmed cases among Florida residents but 390 people have tested positive in the state. There are also 30 non-Florida residents who tested positive and are isolated in the state.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry closed Duval County beaches as well.

The mayor of the Town of Glen St. Mary was hospitalized Monday and was tested for the new coronavirus for which there is no anti-viral treatment or vaccine, said town clerk Donna Loadholtz. Mayor Dickie Foster has underlying health conditions. Mrs. Loadholtz wasn't aware of the result of that testing, however.

The state has yet to report a case in Baker County. The state is not releasing county-level data about the number of people under monitoring, ordered to quarantine or under self-quarantine. The county health department's Jordan Duncan said that information is being withheld to protect patient privacy.

"Balancing the privacy of the individuals being tested and monitored and the confidentiality
of the epidemiological investigations with the responsibility to Floridians to disclose information
to protect the public is a vital role of the Florida Department of Health (DOH). The DOH strives
to protect the identity of individuals tested or affected by COVID-19, while also ensuring
information necessary for the public health is available," she said by email today.

She also encouraged everyone to "practice good hand hygiene and wash their hands with soap and
water for a minimum of 20 seconds, use a tissue when they sneeze or cough and immediately
dispose of it in the trash and stay home if they are sick.”

For shoppers, patrons

Dollar General stores in the county are reserving their first hour in the mornings from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for elderly shoppers most at risk during the current coronavirus pandemic. Most of those infected, 56 percent, have been over 50 years old.

Walmart is also encouraging shoppers to use its app to order merchandise for curb-side pickup. The orders are typically ready the following day.

Two local bars have completely shut down — Gator Patrick's and Bootsies in Macclenny — to complete with the governor's order to cease on-site consumption of alcohol at bars and nightclubs. Restaurants who make 50 percent or more of their sales in food can still serve drinks and Crooked Rooster and other packaged alcohol retailers can still sell to the public for off-site consumption.

Updated: March 18, 12:55 p.m.

COVID-19 cases in Florida rose to 314 today though none in Baker County, according to the Florida Department of Health. Still, the virus is spreading in Jacksonville with 13 cases and only five of them travel-related or related to contact with someone known to be infected with the new coronavirus.

Related story: Bars ordered to close through the end of the month, but rent is still due for the owner of Crooked Rooster Brewery in Macclenny.

Schools statewide are closed through April 15 order of the governor so staff can do a deep cleaning at campuses and distance learning preparations. All extracurriculars and state testing have been canceled, too.

Florida Gateway students are scheduled to return to classes — online only — starting March 30 to continue the spring semester. Graduation has also been postponed until further notice, an udpate from the college's Mike McKee said.

Teachers are expected to report back on March 30, said local union president Angela Callahan today.

FDOH put out its new online dashboard for cases here.

County government offices are restricting access to only those people who must be there and a number of public parks have been closed, including the fairgrounds, Shoals Park, which only recently reopened last weekend, Veterans Memorial Park and the Ag Center through March 30. Board meetings have also been suspended. The library is also closed.

"At this time, all board of county commissioners offices and departments are open and fully operational — with the exception of the closures and cancellations outlined above," read a memo from interim county manager Sara Little to commissioners, constitutional officers, department heads, county employees and The Press early this week.

She said in the memo what county commissioners discussed Monday evening — essentially shutting down county government's non-essential functions. Macclenny City Hall remains open but city officials are limiting hand-to-hand and face-to-face contact with the public, asking residents to do their business online, over the phone or the dropbox outside city hall. Heritage Park remains open to individuals but group gatherings and events have been canceled through April, said city manager Phil Rhoden.

Similarly the tax collectors office is asking the public to utilitize its website and phone calls to conduct business unless you have to be there in person.

On Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis ordered that bars and night clubs close for 30 days after the University of Florida students tested positive for COVID-19.

He urged restaurants and patrons to utilize take out options and stagger dining room seating at least six feet apart. He also called on everyone to keep that distance from others to slow the spread of the virus.

Gov. DeSantis said beaches remain open but per CDC guidance crowds of 10 or more should be avoided.

Here there was little activity a meal delivery locations at the middle school and Macclenny Elementary campuses Tuesday but there were a few families picking up breakfast and lunches from coolers in the parking lots.

A deep cleaning of all schools was ordered by the governor last week and also commenced Tuesday. According to the district website, lunch and breakfast will be available at three district sites — the PreK-K Center, Macclenny Elementary and Baker County High School between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. —  and more than a dozen community sites around the county through March 27. See the full list here.

The district sites are drive-through locations. The meals are only for those 18 and under and only available Monday-through-Friday until March 27.

A call to all students and families is planned for 5:30 p.m. today.

Call 259-4330 for more information on meal sites.

The county commission met Monday night and declared a local state of emergency, closing some county parks where that's possible. The courthouse is closing to all but legally required proceedings with only those necessary for those cases allowed entry.

These closings are temporary and subject to change.

The hiatus for schools in Baker will replace Spring Break previously set for April. But Mrs. Raulerson said school administrators are making preparations for remote teaching. For those with internet access, that could mean working from home computers. For those without access, pencil and paper packages could be picked up at campuses. Those details are also being worked out this week.

The so-called distance learning will "look different for different kids," said the superintendent.

"We're planning for the worst but hoping for the best," she said. "We're taking a deep breath and taking it one day at a time. We have a good group of level-headed people ... We're going to make it happen."

Baker has yet to register a case though that doesn't mean the virus is not present here. The department issued a press release March 15 that said there was a diagnosis in Baker County but that was incorrect, according to county health department's emergency preparedness planner.

"This case was misreported in our [epidemiological] data system under Baker. FDOH communications has been notified and will be updating the website to correct it. Baker still has no confirmed cases at this time," she said Sunday evening.

The first announcement of COVID-19 diagnoses near Baker County came March 11 with cases in Nassau County, involving a 68-year-old male with a history of international travel, and a 29-year-old in Charlton County, GA diagnosed at a Camden County hospital.

The Nassau man was the 15th person in Florida diagnosed with the new coronavirus.

"A 29-year-old Charlton County woman who went to Southeast Georgia Health Systems’ campus in Camden County on Saturday with respiratory symptoms was treated and released but returned to the hospital Monday and has since preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19, the hospital announced Wednesday," reported News4jax.com.

Other cases were linked to an EMS conference in Tampa and to Bike Week ongoing in Daytona Beach, according to Health News Florida. He's isolated in St. Johns County awaiting approval to go home to New York.

"The Florida Department of Health says that individuals with symptoms who attended either the EMS conference or Bike Week should immediately contact their County Health Department or a health care provider. They also should self-isolate for 14 Days," reported Health News Florida March 12.

No cases were listed by the Florida Department of Health in Baker County, though there may be people being monitored here for symptoms. Nursing homes began stopping nearly all visitations March 10 and screening patients and staff regularly for symptoms.

Those with COVID-19 symptoms — fever, cough and trouble breathing — should isolate themselves and contact their healthcare provider and the county health department at (904) 259-6291 to get tested for free.

Even though about 80 percent of those infected have mild effects from the virus, they can still pass it on and infect others more susceptible to death or severe illness. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk. There is no anti-viral treatment for the new virus similar to MERS and SARS of the last decade. There is also no vaccine yet.

People should avoid large gatherings where people are in close proximity to one another, not only to protect themselves from contracting the virus but others who they could potentially infect, leading to a wider spread of the virus and more deaths. Symptoms can take several days to surface.

At a press conference on Monday Governor Ron DeSantis had this warning: “If you’re elderly or you have a serious, underlying medical condition, don’t get on a cruise ship right now. Don’t get on a long flight where you could be exposed to the virus. Take certain steps to do what they call social distancing."

Updated: March 10, 2020 6 p.m.

Nursing homes in Macclenny and elsewhere were advised Tuesday by federal authorities to cease visitations by non-essential personnel and regularly screen residents and staff for symptoms of COVID-19 multiple times a day.

Tracy Greene, vice president of Southern Healthcare Management, which operates Macclenny Nursing and Rehab, said it’s important to combat the sense of isolation that patients will feel under the new restrictions, so staff has been directed to facilitate communications between patients and family and friends through video calling applications like Skype and FaceTime.

She said exceptions could be made for patients nearing the end of their lives, but the more stringent visitation and screening policies will remain in place until the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) advise otherwise.

In five days the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Florida jumped from four on March 5 to 14 by Tuesday morning.

Updated: March 10, 2020 11 a.m.

The state announced two more COVID-19 cases in Florida in Volusia and Broward counties. A 60-year-old female with a history of international travel was diagnosed in Volusia and a 69-year-old without that history was listed in Broward.

The update reported the new Broward case as one of three found to be associated with the Port Everglades and Metro Cruise Services, a company operating at the port.

Updated: March 9, 2020 11:40 a.m.

The level of the state of the emergency in Florida regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus was upped this morning by order of Governor Ron DeSantis as the number of state residents diagnosed reached a dozen in eight counties, including two deaths.

Two elderly (70+) Florida residents from Santa Rosa and Lee counties became the first COVID-19 fatalities in the state over the weekend. died after testing positive for the virus in Santa Rosa County. Both had a history of international travel.

No cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Baker or neighboring counties.

Most of those diagnosed are elderly with a history of travel outside the U.S. As such the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) is urging "all individuals who have traveled internationally to self-isolate for 14 days following their date of return to the United States," reads the latest update from Tallahassee and forwarded to The Press by FDOH-Baker's Jordan Duncan.

The locations of diagnosed residents have included Manatee (a 63-year-old male with no history of international travel and an 81-year-old female with such history), Hillsborough (a 29-year-old female with a history of international travel), Santa Rosa (71-year-old male with travel history), Broward (three all males with no travel history ages 75, 65 and 67), Lee (two 77-year-olds, a male and female with travel history), Charlotte (54-year-old female with travel history), Volusia (66-year-old female with travel history), Okaloosa (61-year-old female with travel history) counties, according to a list released late this morning.

Elderly individuals and those with underlying health conditions are, particularly at risk. Officials have said in the large majority of cases, the virus's effects are mild.

"Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says there are people in his city being closely monitored, ...," reported Jamarlo Phillips of the city's CBS/Fox affiliate TV station.

“If someone tests positive in this city, when I learn of that positive test, I will share that with you, and I will share that with the public,” he quoted Mayor Curry as saying Saturday.

FDOH reports that passengers on a Nile River cruise in Egypt last month, Feb. 4 to Feb. 18, have tested positive for COVID-19, including two from Florida. They're being asked to self-isolate, too.

"I have directed the Division of Emergency Management to activate to Level II to ensure our state has all the necessary resources engaged as we respond to COVID-19,” said Governor DeSantis recently. “It is critical that we proactively coordinate all state resources to mitigate the threat and contain COVID-19. I urge all Floridians to take necessary precautions and follow hygiene guidelines issued by the Surgeon General and Florida Department of Health.”

FDOH's Call Center is available for questions regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-779-6121 or email your questions to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

"... Before seeking medical care, individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their nearest county health department," FDOH said in an update.

For Baker County, that's the health department at 480 W. Lowder St. in Macclenny. Call (904) 259-6291 to reach the local office or email  

For self-isolation guidelines, please visit: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/need-to-know/Self-Isolation.html

For more information regarding what travelers need to know, visit: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/travel-notice.html

COVID-19 is spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from the COVID-19 virus without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Posted March 5, 2020 

Officials with the Florida Department of Health - Baker County and the school district are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19, a new and novel coronavirus similar to SARS and MERS from the last decade that poses the biggest risk to the elderly and those with weak immune systems.

Four presumptive positive tests for COVID-19 in Florida have been announced by Governor Ron DeSantis through today though that number is expected to increase as the virus spreads in the state and U.S., which the Centers for Disease Control considers at low-risk for an outbreak like those in China, Italy and a handful of other nations.

The four cases originated in Santa Rosa, Hillsborough and Manatee counties and two of them are siblings, according to the Associated Press citing the governor's press conference earlier today. Jessica Palombo of WJCT in Jacksonville reported today that a transplant from Oregon who suspects she could be infected experienced difficulty getting tested. Read that here.

FDOH is reporting on the spread COVID-19 on its website here (pictured above) by releasing how many people have been impacted so far but not their locations, which Gov. DeSantis has been addressing in daily press conferences.

"... If additional presumptive positives are reported," said FDOH-Baker's emergency preparedness planner and senior community health nursing supervisor Jordan Duncan, "an announcement will be made at that time."

She said testing is required for individuals with fever, cough, shortness of breath and who meet one of the following circumstances:

• Traveled to or from one of the affected geographic areas with widespread or sustained community transmission (at this time those countries are China, Japan, Italy, Iran, and South Korea).

• Had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient.

• Has severe acute lower respiratory illness requiring hospitalization.

If you meet these criteria, Mrs. Duncan said you should see a doctor and call them before showing up so they can be ready to prevent the potential spread of the virus. Doctors may then request COVID-19 testing from public health agencies anytime 24/7.

"Currently, the test is only available through the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories and CDC. There is no cost to those individuals who meet the above criteria," said Mrs. Duncan, adding that very few respiratory infections will be COVID-19.

She said those meeting the COVID-19 screening criteria should consult a health-care provider as soon as possible. They should also cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, she said. Those with surgical masks should wear them when in close contact with others. Mrs. Duncan said they can reduce the droplets coughed into the air.

"Individuals who are not suspected of having COVID-19 do not need to wear a surgical mask," said Ms. Duncan.

The county health department has been working with local schools regarding monitoring for and preventing the spread of the virus, including hosting an informative meeting late Wednesday afternoon.

"Florida Department of Health Baker County works closely with the Baker County School District in all matters concerning the health of our students," said Mrs. Duncan. "FDOH Baker has provided guidance from the CDC to the Baker County School District to assist with planning for and preventing the spread of COVID-19. FDOH Baker staff will continue to work closely with Superintendent [Sherrie] Raulerson and school district personnel to determine the need for further action, including school closures as the situation evolves."

The superintendent said public health officials are "doing an outstanding job" keeping the school district current on the nature of the threat, which has been declared a public health emergency by the governor.

"The Baker County School District will continue to work very closely with local and state health officials to determine any need for closure of facilities and the criteria for their reopening," said Mrs. Raulerson. "Disinfection can be done quickly and thoroughly given the size of our school district. The safety and health of all our students and staff is our number one priority."

Check back here for further updates ...

Joel Addington

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