As numbers spike statewide, Gulf County has seen a modest increase in positive coronavirus cases the past two weeks.
And, as the director of the National Institute of Health this week cautioned folks from traveling out of their community, it is worth noting that travel is linked to an overwhelming number of the county’s 13 cases to date.
The two positive cases confirmed this week, a Wewahitchka woman in her 30s and a county female in her 20s, were both travel related.
Both patients are in isolation and the process of contact tracing has begun.
In four of the county’s 13 cases, patients have recovered, the others remain within the 14-day quarantine period.
The emphasis against travel, particularly if an individual has symptoms, was emphasized by local health officials.
"We will continue provided COVID-19 testing for Gulf and Franklin residents as well as individuals from other counties or states," said Sarah Hinds, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County.
"That being said, if you suspect you might have COVID-19 please do not travel here. Please get a COVID-19 test in your community and know the results before you arrive.
"Stay home when you are sick and follow CDC guidelines. Visitors are also responsible for helping keep our communities safe and healthy."
Hinds has repeatedly urged those with symptoms not to travel to Gulf County.
Local officials are also emphasizing the importance of preventing the spread by, among other actions, social distancing and the wearing of masks.
"We are working closely with patients, close contacts and health care providers to ensure proper precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of the virus," Hinds said.
Masks have been shown to significantly reduce the odds of contracting the virus.
However, as Port St. Joe Mayor Rex Buzzett has repeatedly observed and publicly criticized, there is a large number of residents and visitors not wearing masks in crowded public places such as grocery stores.
Testing is also continuing to increase, with the health department testing Tuesday through Thursday of each week, by appointment, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. ET.
Patients must be 18 or older and make an appointment by calling the department at 227-1276, but patients do not have to be symptomatic.
The department will also test at Lake Alice Park in Wewahitchka after the July 4 holiday.
The Florida Department of Health is focused on testing at least 2 percent of each county’s population each month.
In Gulf County, that is 325 individuals.
As of Wednesday’s press time, 1,350 tests for coronavirus had been performed in Gulf County, according to the Florida Department of Health dashboard.
More tests have likely been performed, Hinds said, but there can be a lag of 2-5 days on results.
The number of positive Florida residents is 101,303 compared to 78,128 at this time last week, one of the highest weekly jumps since the pandemic began.
Florida has seen a steady rise in positive cases the past two weeks.
There are 13,325 hospitalizations, up from 12,206 a week ago.
Deaths in Florida due to COVID-19 have risen from 2,993 to 3,238.
The state had performed 1.64 million COVID-19 tests as of Wednesday, up about 200,000 from the prior week.
The FDOH dashboard may be found at https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/96dd742462124fa0b38ddedb9b25e429