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Underlying health conditions linked to increased COVID-19 risk affect about half of Marion residents

By Florida Department of Health in Marion County

July 30, 2020


OCALA, Fla.—Heart disease, diabetes mellitus, COPD, obesity, and chronic kidney disease—these are the top five underlying conditions that place you most at risk for severe illness with COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For Marion families, this means about 50% of the county’s residents should take extra precautions to prevent exposure to COVID-19 due to their underlying health condition(s). Age also places residents in an at-risk category, increasing the overall number of vulnerable residents locally.

Severe illness cases are more likely to need hospitalization, ICU admission or ventilation. To date, 8% of Marion’s COVID-19 cases have involved hospitalization, compared to 6% of state-wide cases. A total of 56 residents have died after contracting COVID-19; all but three had noted underlying health conditions. From recorded COVID-19 linked deaths:

  • 18% (10 total) were in ages 55-64
  • 13% (7 total) were in ages 65-74
  • 32% (18 total) were in ages 75-84
  • 23% (13 total) were in ages 85+

“If you have one of these conditions, you need to take extra precautions to both reduce your exposure and prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is especially important if you are over age 65,” said Florida Department of Health in Marion County Administrator Mark Lander. “It’s also worth considering whether individuals you would interact with could be high-risk for exposure and consider adjusting your personal plans accordingly. We have seen more than a few cases where a young relative has passed the virus on to an older or more vulnerable relative.”

COVID-19 precautions include: 

  • Practicing social distancing
  • Gathering in groups of 10 or less
  • Staying home when sick
  • Limiting unnecessary trips 
  • Wearing a mask when out in public and unable to practice social distancing
  • Following sanitation guidelines, such as frequent handwashing and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces.
  • Avoiding the 3C’s: crowded places with many others nearby, closed spaces (with poor ventilation) and close contact settings, such as close-range conversation

COVID-19 case overview

Marion County is reporting 4,682 cumulative cases of COVID-19 as of this afternoon. This is an increase of 368 cases since yesterday (July 29). More than 230 of today’s cases are from correctional facilities.

Of Marion COVID-19 tests from July 29, 23.3% were positive; the county’s cumulative positive test rate is 10.9%. The daily positivity rate for all new COVID-19 tests in Florida on July 29 was 12%; the state’s cumulative positive rate is 12.87%.

New COVID-19 related death

A 96-year-old Ocala woman has passed away after contracting COVID-19. A total of 56 individuals have now died after becoming ill with the virus. They range in age from 32 to 98.

Testing update

Department of Health in Marion County COVID-19 testing will continue as scheduled through the end of the day on Friday, July 31. The department is rescheduling its Monday. Aug. 3 appointments based on anticipated inclement weather. Further appointments may be adjusted if needed based on weather conditions.

Next week is the last week of scheduled testing appointments at the Department of Health. Starting Aug. 11, the department is changing its testing process and moving the location of testing to the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion (2232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala). People who would like to be tested will no longer need to first make an appointment; they will be able to be tested at the new site on a first-come, first-served basis.

Testing will be held each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 to 10 am. at the Livestock Pavilion. People who would like to be tested can line their vehicles up starting at 7:30 a.m. on each testing day. Testing will run through 10 a.m. or until the day’s available samples are all used, whichever comes first. To be tested, individuals should bring a valid photo ID; minors under age 18 will only be tested if they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

People should be prepared to stay in their vehicles while waiting for testing; restroom facilities will not be available. Only people who are being tested should be in the vehicle, with the exception of parents, guardians or caregivers. No pets are permitted in the vehicle during tests. For more information on testing, call the Marion County COVID-19 Hotline at 352-644-2590.

For more information

Visit DOH-Marion online at and follow the agency on Twitter (@FLHealthMarion) for the latest on COVID-19 in Marion County. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Florida, visit For general questions about COVID-19, call the state hotline (866-779-6121), local hotline (352-644-2590), or email