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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 Toll Passes 13,500 Cases, BayCare To Waive Costs, And More

image of coronavirus

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. Monday, April 6, according to the Florida Department of Health.

13,214 – Florida Residents | 9 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 415 – Non-Florida Residents | 254 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And WUSF Public Media 

NEWSLETTER: Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Toll On Florida: 254 Deaths, 13,629 Positive Cases

Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 254 people in Florida, and infected more than 13,500, according to Monday evening’s update from the Florida Department of Health.

-- Lisa Peakes

BayCare To Waive Out-Of-Pocket Costs

BayCare Health Plans is waiving all out-of-pocket costs for the 8,000 people who are covered through its Medicare Advantage plans.

The company will cover all testing and treatment, including in-patient hospital admissions.

“The health and wellbeing of the community is our top priority,” said Larry Costello, president of BayCare Health Plans. “If one of our members contracts the virus, their concern should not be in how to afford their care. We will worry about that, so that they can focus on getting better.” [Read more]

-- Julio Ochoa

State Says It's Addressing Unemployment Website Woes

Florida has added capacity in staff and technology for its beleaguered unemployment website, which had problems even before an unprecedented surge of applicants thrown out of work by the coronavirus.

Florida has added capacity in staff and technology for its beleaguered unemployment website, which had problems even before an unprecedented surge of applicants thrown out of work by the coronavirus.

Most of those people have been frustrated with the problematic state website, which couldn't handle the sudden increase in traffic. [Read more]

-- Nancy Klingener, WLRN

Boat Ramps Remain Open ... For Now

Many businesses have been shuttered because of coronavirus, but boat ramps and marinas in Hillsborough and Pinellas County remained open over the weekend.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and local law enforcement agencies are encouraging people to hit the water, so long as they abide by the rules set down in a statewide "stay-at-home" order. That is, stay at least 50 feet away from other boats and have no more than 10 people aboard.

But in southern Hillsborough County, dockmaster James Leckie said recreational boaters are still flocking to Beer Can Island in Apollo Beach. Two weeks ago, he said he saw hundreds of boats clumped around Apollo Beach's "beer can island." [Read more]

-- Susan Giles Wantuck

Rick Scott Donates $35,000 To USF Pandemic Fund

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is donating a portion of his salary to aid the University of South Florida’s Pandemic Research & Response Fund.

In a news release, Scott said he is donating $35,000 to the fund, to help USF Heath fight the coronavirus epidemic.

The fund was established last week with an inaugural gift of $25,000 from Mary T. Pipino.

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Florida Inmates Test Positive

Two inmates at a Northwest Florida prison have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The inmates are housed at Blackwater River Correctional Facility, a prison operated by The Geo Group, a private contractor. 

 
It's the first time corrections officials have said inmates in the nation’s third-largest prison system have tested positive. 

Five employees at the prison have also been diagnosed with COVID-19.

-- News Service of Florida

Florida Virtual School Increasing Capacity

Florida Virtual School is increasing its capacity for students amid COVID-19 school district closures.

The state’s online school is providing more than 100 free courses to K-12 students, including advanced placement classes, as brick-and-mortar schools are closed until at least May 1.

Louis Algaze directs the school, which he says is poised to add the capacity for more than 2 million students more than it served last year.

"Our IT team is ramping up servers on a staggered schedule, increasing our capacity over the next few weeks and month to ultimately serve 2.7 million students by May 4, 2020,” Algaze said.

The online school has also launched resources for teachers, like a six-hour virtual teacher training.

The Virtual School provides service to students statewide, and reports it served more than 215,000 students in the 2018-19 school year.

-- Ryan Dailey, WFSU

Churches Get Creative For Easter Week Worship
 
Less than a month into the global pandemic, online worship is already commonplace as large gatherings are canceled due to coronavirus. And churches around the country are getting creative for Easter week, the holiest time of the year for Christians as they mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Here's what some churches across Tampa Bay are doing to accommodate their parishioners. [Read more]

-- Kerry Sheridan

Democrats Push For Vote By Mail

The Florida Democratic Party is putting a major effort into getting potential voters to register by mail. That comes in part because of the coronavirus and despite glitches reported in the state registration system.

The state party has begun texting 1 million of the state’s more than 5 million registered Democrats to get out of the habit of going to the ballot box on election day. [Read more]

-- Steve Newborn

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