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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: Most Florida Daily Deaths Reported, Pasco Elections On Hold, And More

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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. Thursday, April 9 according to the Florida Department of Health.

16,323 – Florida Residents | 9 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 503 – Non-Florida Residents | 371 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And WUSF Public Media 

NEWSLETTER: Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Florida Cases Top 16,500; Most Deaths Reported In 24 Hour Period

Health officials are reporting 16,826 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida.

The Department of Health’s Thursday 6 p.m.. report showed 371 people have died in Florida due to the coronavirus. The number includes 48 new deaths in the past 24 hours. That's a new high, and one more than the previous daily high observed on April 3.

-- Lisa Peakes

Applications Open For St. Petersburg's Fighting Chance Fund

St. Petersburg has launched a website that allows small businesses that have been financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak to apply for aid.

The Fighting Chance Fund is established with the city committing $6.8 million to assist locally owned and independently operated small businesses.

Applications for the emergency grant opened at 8 a.m. and can be submitted on the Fighting Chance Fund website.

To be eligible, business must be independently owned, have 25 or fewer employees, and must be 50 percent locally owned. [Read more]

--  Carl Lisciandrello

Vinik Family Foundation Donates $50,000 To USF Student Fund

Jeff and Penny Vinik, through their Vinik Family Foundation, are giving $50,000 to the University of South Florida United Support Fund.

The initiative provides financial relief to students who are facing economic need – rent, food, and other unexpected expenses – due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the gift from the Tampa Bay Lightning owner’s foundation, the fund is now up to over $240,000.

“We are pleased to be able to assist the students at USF during this difficult and uncertain time,” Jeff and Penny Vinik said. “We encourage everyone who is able to find a way to give of their time, talent or treasure to those who need assistance during this pandemic.” [Read more]

-- Mark Schreiner

Pasco Elections On Hold As Polk Takes Precautions

It's going to take more than a pandemic to keep people from voting. At least in Polk County, where just under 15 percent of registered voters went to the polls in six cities. That's about average or a little higher than normal.

In Pasco County, however, concerns over coronavirus have prompted election officials to request -- and receive -- a delay in three municipal elections.

Poll workers in Polk County were on hand to sanitize every booth after each person voted.

"We did have good turnout," Polk Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards said. "So we actually wound up having some lines, because of course we limited the number of people allowed at each polling location at any one time. So that resulted in people being outside or backed up from the door, standing six feet apart."

Pasco County requested -- and received -- a delay in three municipal elections from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who says he's OK with delaying elections until August. [Read more]

-- Steve Newborn

Crist Wants Higher Unemployment Benefits

St. Petersburg's Charlie Crist is joining other state Democrats to push Governor Ron DeSantis for more money for people receiving unemployment benefits.

Currently, the state offers a maximum of $275 a week, and Crist says that puts Florida’s unemployment payments among the lowest in the nation.

“We’re offering this suggestion to quickly and easily reduce the strain on our out of work Floridians by using the powers the Governor currently possesses to increase Florida’s unemployment benefit,” Crist said. “In fact, governors in Georgia and Michigan, which have similar authorities, have already taken this action.”

Crist also believes the length of time someone is eligible for benefits should be extended.

He worries once the federal stimulus of $600 for 16 weeks runs out, citizens will be stuck relying on just the current state benefits.

-- Blaise Gainey, WFSU

Miami Makes Masks Mandatory

The city of Miami is stepping up its response to the coronavirus pandemic by requiring everyone inside grocery stores, pharmacies and most other retail business that are still open to wear face masks.

The order signed Wednesday went into effect early Thursday morning.

The Miami Herald reports any delivery workers and construction workers are also expected to cover their faces.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says police officers will be enforcing the law, though at first they'll help educate people. Business that don't enforce the law could be fined or shut down.

-- Associated Press

DeSantis Ponders Testing Travelers From Hot Spots

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday it would be good to test certain international travelers for COVID-19 as testing improves and becomes more available. DeSantis pointed to recent issues with cruise-ship passengers who had the virus, as he expressed a desire to require rapid testing of people from COVID-19 hot spots.

“If you’re coming from like a Brazil and or coming from these other places, it would be good to have those tests available and done so that as people come to Florida, we know that people aren’t necessarily carrying the virus,” DeSantis said while attending an event highlighting a COVID-19 field hospital being set up by the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers inside the Miami Beach Convention Center.

“Miami has gone through a lot here. Other parts of Florida have gone through a lot here,” DeSantis continued. “We’ve had a lot of dislocation economically. We’re trying to mitigate that, and we’re trying to bounce back from it. But to go through all that and then just have people coming in internationally or even domestically and seeding it all over again, I think is a problem.”

DeSantis, who has issued executive orders requiring travelers from the hotspots of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Louisiana to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Florida, said he intends to discuss his proposal with President Donald Trump.

“The fact of the matter is airplanes are what brought the virus to the United States,” DeSantis said, referring to the virus starting in China and then moving to other countries. “We’ve got to think smart about this. But I think we want to have people to be able to function as a society. But I think there are ways to do that much smarter.”

-- News Service of Florida

USF Announces Virtual Spring Commencement

The University of South Florida is announcing plans for the thousands of students whose traditional commencement ceremonies scheduled for May have been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

USF will expand the number of its in-person ceremonies, scheduled for August 6 through 9, to provide spring graduates an opportunity to participate. Those plans are subject to what recommendations for large gatherings are like come this summer. [Read more]

-- Mark Schreiner

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