As COVID-19 cases in Duval County are on the rise, Mayor Lenny Curry said the city will be stepping up capacity enforcement at bars and restaurants.
Curry announced in his June 24 virtual news briefing that effective immediately, city code enforcement will begin checking on businesses to make sure they are following the phase 2 reopening guidelines.
In phase 2, restaurants and bars can operate at 50% capacity indoors, with unlimited seating outdoors with proper social distancing.
Curry said he created a task force that will identify businesses in violation, and report them to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The task force will work mainly in the evenings to monitor businesses.
Businesses found to be in violation of the guidelines could have their food or alcohol license revoked, he said.
Curry said if businesses are trying to comply with the guidelines, but still are in violation, “we’re going to work with them.”
“We’re not looking to create headaches for businesses doing the right thing,” he said. “But as the governor said yesterday, if it’s ‘Dance Party USA,’ and people are hanging from the rafters, we’re going to have to take action.”
As of noon June 24, there were 3,419 positive cases in Duval County, 325 hospitalizations and 62 deaths. The cumulative positive rate over time is 4%. For testing done in the county June 23, the positive test rate was 12.9%.
The city also is working on relocating the Lot J testing site to an indoor location.
UF Health Jacksonville COVID-19 update
Dr. Leon Haley, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville, provided an update on COVID-19 at its facility.
Haley said UF Health Jacksonville’s COVID-19 admissions doubled in the past week and there are seven patients in the ICU. There are about 30 patients “under investigation,” to see if they test positive.
Patients testing positive also are a younger age than those testing positive in the earlier days of the virus.
“We obviously still are battling the COVID pandemic,” he said. “One of the things we’ve been emphasizing with our team is let’s not focus on what a second wave may or may not look like. We are clearly still in the first wave of this event.”
As for the upcoming Republican National Convention, Curry said the host committee’s focus is on raising private funds for the event.
The convention is Aug. 24-27 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
It’s still too early to make decisions on the health precautions that will be taken at the RNC, Curry said.
“As we look at any event that is months or two months out, we will assess the situation as we get close and make decisions based on the best interests of public health,” he said.