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Health News Florida
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Latest On Coronavirus: Florida Cases Up To 11,545; State Tests More Than 100,000

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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. Saturday, April 4, according to the Florida Department of Health.

11,173 – Florida Residents | 9 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 372 – Non-Florida Residents | 195 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And WUSF Public Media 

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Florida Eclipses 11,000 Cases

Thursday, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the grim milestone of 1 million infections worldwide and 5,600 US deaths.

The Florida Department of Health reported, as of 6 p.m. Saturday, April 4, 11,154 people in Florida have been infected with the coronavirus.

So far, 195 people in the state have died from COVID-19.

-- Lisa Peakes

Florida Has Tested More Than 100,000 People For Coronavirus

Florida has tested more than 100,000 people for the coronavirus as it works to stop the disease from spreading.

The state is second only to New York in the number of tests administered, officials said in a release on Saturday.

“This is an incredible achievement by any measure, and it is all due to the hard work and great sacrifice by Florida’s thousands of health care workers and first responders who are on the front lines of this fight,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in the release. “These professionals will have the full weight of the State of Florida behind them as they continue to devote themselves to keeping Florida’s families safe.”

After a slow start, the state ramped up its testing in March and the number of confirmed cases in Florida jumped exponentially.

As of 11 a.m. Saturday, Florida had 11,111 cases of COVID-19 and 191 deaths. Florida has tested 102,108 people, with 90,956 of the tests coming back negative. Read more.

-- Julio Ochoa

Hillsborough To Test All First Responders, Nursing Home Staff For COVID-19

Hillsborough County will soon begin testing all first responders and medical staff at nursing home facilities for COVID-19.  

The county expects to receive 44,000 rapid test kits and will use them to test all employees who work on the front lines at fire, EMS and police agencies in Hillsborough and its municipalities. It will also test staff at assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

The tests will help the county determine if people who work in these areas have the virus. It will also help them know which workers have already been exposed to the virus and possibly developed antibodies to it, a release from the county said.

Information from the CDC suggests a large portion of the population may get COVID-19 without having symptoms.

“The information garnered from the test results impacts our efforts in the fight against community spread of COVID-19,” the release said. “Individuals who are determined to have developed the antibodies could be safely deployed to "hot spots" to administer life-saving treatment.”

Results from the tests, which involve a small finger prick, are returned within 10 minutes.

Once the county receives the tests, it will coordinate with municipalities, nursing homes and assisted living facilities to administer them to employees.

-- Julio Ochoa

Sarasota Memorial Hospital To Furlough Employees

Sarasota Memorial To Furlough Employees Due To $16 Million Revenue Shortfall

Sarasota Memorial Hospital said Friday it will have to temporarily furlough some staff, due to a revenue shortfall from coronavirus.

The hospital lost $16 million in March as elective surgeries were canceled to make room for COVID-19 patients, and officials expect to lose more money in April and May.

“This was an extremely difficult decision, and one that we did not make lightly,” CEO David Verinder said in a letter to employees.

“As the health care safety net for the region, we must do all we can to continue fulfilling that critical role in the weeks ahead and for the long-term.”

It was not immediately clear how many employees would be affected. The hospital said plans will take shape in the coming days, and will include pay cuts for senior leaders.

The hospital, with 839 beds, currently has 28 patients with COVID-19. Five people have died from coronavirus there. And nine hospital employees who tested positive are being monitored at home.

"The health system has had to redirect funds, resources and equipment to respond to the pandemic, planning for surge needs, purchasing additional supplies, and preparing and staffing an increasing number of isolation rooms throughout the hospital," said a hospital statement.

-- Kerry Sheridan

Manatee County Sets Temporary Curfew

Following a 3 hour-long emergency meeting, Manatee County Commissioners have approved a resolution to create a temporary curfew.

The regulation prohibits non-essential travel from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., seven days a week.

Currently, the County's COVID-19 restrictions are only enforceable on public property but officials say group gatherings at private residences continue to pose a public health risk.

Some county law enforcement and municipal leaders say the additional measure will send a clear message to residents that social distancing orders must be taken seriously.

Doctors from Manatee Memorial Hospital spoke in favor of the curfew at Friday’s emergency meeting, and asked officials to lead by example.

But several commissioners spoke strongly against the measure. “I just think it’s a bad idea,” said District 3 Commissioner Stephen Jonsson.  “The government should not be telling people what to do.”

-- Cathy Carter

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