Latest On Coronavirus: Pinellas Reports First Death, Tampa To Enact Stay-At-Home Policy, And More
WUSF will be providing the latest news and information on coronavirus in Tampa Bay and across the state. Here are the latest developments:
Total positive cases of coronavirus as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, according to the Florida Department of Health.
1,379 – Florida Residents |6 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 88 – Non-Florida Residents | 20 - Deaths
Pinellas County Reports First Death
1,467 people in Florida have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest statistics released Tuesday evening by the Florida Department of Health. That's an increase of more than 200 people since the same time Monday.
Twenty people in Florida have also died from COVID-19. That's two more than the earlier Tuesday update.
The Department of Health in Pinellas County is also reporting a 67-year-old resident diagnosed with COVID-19 has died. The death is the first recorded in Pinellas from the coronavirus.
-- Lisa Peakes
Tampa To Enact Stay-At-Home Policy; At Odds With Hillsborough County
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said she plans to enact a stay-at-home policy for the city. It would be enacted Wednesday morning and be enforced beginning at 11:59 p.m. that night.
It means most people will be asked to stay at home except for getting essential items, like going to the grocery store. It doesn't apply to health care workers, first responders, water and sanitation workers. Castor announced her plans Tuesday on Facebook.
Her unilateral move comes a day after a meeting on Monday, when Hillsborough County's Emergency Policy Group voted down Castor's request for a countywide shelter-in-place order. A majority of that group said only the county administrator can issue this kind of order.
-- Steve Newborn
Gov. DeSantis Asks Seniors To Stay Home, Says New York Area Travelers Must Report Contacts
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday said that Florida's Surgeon General Scott Rivkees will be issuing a new health advisory in response to the coronavirus.
People 65 and older, and anyone with underlying medical conditions, will be asked to stay at home for the next 14 days to minimize their exposure to COVID-19.
DeSantis is also expanding his directive requiring travelers flying into the state from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to self-isolate to now include people who flew into Florida from that region in the last three weeks.
During Tuesday's press conference, DeSantis said he will sign an order requiring travelers to self-isolate and report the contacts they've had with anyone in Florida. That information will then be shared with local communities. [Read more]
-- Cathy Carter
MacDill Has 3 Potential Coronavirus Cases
MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa is monitoring three positive cases of coronavirus.
In a Facebook post, MacDill officials said that the 6th Air Refueling Wing commander has declared a Public Health Emergency for the Air Force base.
No immediate restrictions were implemented as of Monday, but the post said some may come in the future.
-- Jessica Meszaros
Florida Prison Employee Tests Positive For Coronavirus
A Central Florida prison employee has contracted the coronavirus, and three other staff members are self-isolating after coming into close contact with the infected worker.
A statement issued Tuesday by the state Department of Corrections said the employee works at the Marion Correctional Institution Work Camp near Ocala. The employee tested positive for the virus on Sunday, but has been out of work for eight days.
The three other staff members have been placed on leave and will be required to self-isolate after coming in close contact with the infected employee.
The Department of Corrections this month suspended face-to-face visits at prisons statewide and has stopped accepting new inmates as it tries to slow the spread of coronavirus. In a statement provided to The News Service of Florida on Monday afternoon, officials said there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus among inmates in the department’s 143 facilities across the state.
-- News Service of Florida
Nurse Independent Practice Urged Amid Coronavirus
A Florida lawmaker wants Gov. Ron DeSantis to allow advanced practice registered nurses to immediately begin practicing independently of physicians.
A law allowing that to happen was passed during the recently ended legislative session and is scheduled to go into effect July first.
However, Avon Park House Republican Cary Pigman, who helped champion the law, asked DeSantis to immediately allow nurses to work independently to help in coronavirus response efforts.
Currently, advanced practice registered nurses are required to work under the supervision of physicians until the new law takes effect.
Pigman, who is also a physician, requested that all insurance companies cover telemedicine services for policyholders.
The Florida Medical Association last week asked the state Insurance Commissioner to mandate that insurers reimburse telehealth services at the same rates as in-person health care.
-- News Service of Florida
Kriseman Calls for Stay-At-Home Order
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to avoid imposing a statewide lockdown because of the coronavirus, and leave it up to individual counties.
But St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is joining Tampa Mayor Jane Castor in saying a statewide, uniform order would better protect Floridians.
In a Tweet Kriseman posted Monday afternoon, he said if there's no statewide "stay at home" order, cities and other municipalities like St. Pete are likely to move forward on their own.
St. Petersburg spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez later said a stay-at-home order is not imminent. [Read more]
-- Mark Schreiner
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