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Health News Florida

Latest On Coronavirus: Cases Pass 21,000; Hillsborough Institutes Curfew; Pinellas Looks At Beaches

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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. Monday, April 13 according to the Florida Department of Health.

20,394 – Florida Residents | 9 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 625 – Non-Florida Residents | 499 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And WUSF Public Media

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Florida COVID-19 Cases Pass 21,000

Florida coronavirus cases have exceeded 21,000, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The 6 p.m. Monday update shows that 21, 019 people have tested positive in the state, an increase of 1,124 from Sunday evening.

In addition, 499 people have died.

-- Lisa Peakes

Curfew Set For Hillsborough County Tonight

You'd best not be out and about after sundown in Hillsborough County. A curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. is set to go into effect beginning Monday night after dozens of large gatherings took place over the weekend.

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said there were 24 calls to police Saturday concerning large groups getting together and not paying attention to social distancing, and another 14 calls on Easter Sunday.

At a meeting Monday of the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group, County Commission Chair Les Miller said officials need to send a more urgent notice to people to stop congregating.

"We must do something today about the social gatherings, people having parties, people coming together and not paying attention to what they're doing, is really just - I don't want to say they don't care - but they just think they're invincible," Miller said. [Read more]

-- Steve Newborn

Pinellas Commissioners To Consider Easing Beach Restrictions

Pinellas County commissioners will discuss the possibility of easing beach restrictions during a meeting on Thursday.

The subject came up at a Monday meeting where commissioners extended a local state of emergency until Friday. That order includes the continued closure of public beaches and beach parking areas.

But during the public comment portion of the county's zoom meeting, residents voiced concerns about beach closures.

Axel Davit of Clearwater called the restrictions an "emotional overreaction" by the board and said residents are capable of social distancing with proper law enforcement.

“It's extremely unhealthy, both mentally and physically, to put citizens on an indefinite house arrest with extremely limited opportunities for fresh air or sunlight.” [Read more]

-- Daylina Miller

Hillsborough Offers Paper Unemployment Forms

Hillsborough County is opening up drive-thru services at two libraries in Tampa to offer unemployment forms to people who do not have access to a printer.

Residents can go to the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, 3910 S. Manhattan Ave., and the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, 2902 W. Bearss Ave., to pick up the printed forms.

They also can also return the forms to the drive-thru locations, and the library staff will mail it to the state.

Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Since the libraries are otherwise closed to the public, the drive-thrus will be open exclusively to distribute and collect unemployment assistance applications.

Additional information on how to file for unemployment benefits and other reemployment assistance is available at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's website.

- Mark Schreiner

Ask Your Coronavirus Questions On ‘The State We’re In’

Join public media stations WUSF in Tampa and WMFE in Orlando Tuesday for an exclusive Facebook Live conversation. You’ll get to ask Donna Peterson, Dean of the USF College of Public Health, your Covid-19 questions.

It’s all part of a new show, called “The State We’re In” - broadcasting Tuesdays at noon. Each week, we’ll look at how the pandemic is reshaping people and communities along the I-4 corridor. You’ll connect with health care experts, economic analysts, civic leaders and people experiencing the pandemic just like you.

We’re taking your questions now for Dean Peterson here and on Facebook.

Join us on Facebook Tuesday at noon to hear the answers.

-- Mary Shedden

Newspaper Says State Pressured Law Firm To Drop Suit

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ general counsel pressured a law firm representing the Miami Herald to stop the filing of a public records lawsuit seeking information from state officials about which elderly-care facilities in Florida had coronavirus cases.

The Herald reported Sunday that the backdoor pressure worked as the Holland & Knight law firm told its senior partner representing the newspaper to abandon the lawsuit. The Herald is now pursuing the lawsuit using another law firm, Thomas & LoCicero of Tampa. Holland & Knight regularly does work for the state. Helen Ferre, a spokeswoman for the governor, says there was no effort to strong-arm the newspaper.

-- The Associated Press

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