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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 COVID-19 Cases Near 25,000, The Impact On Tampa Bay, 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.. Friday, April 17, according to the Florida Department of Health:

24,066 – Florida Residents | 9 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 687 – Non-Florida Residents | 726 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

NEWSLETTER: Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Manatee County Sees Nine COVID-19 Deaths Friday; Florida's New Cases Near 25,000

Florida saw an increase of 1,413 new cases of COVID-19 Friday.

The Department of Health reported 24,753 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state.

726 people have died from the coronavirus - an increase of 58 since Thursday evening.

Manatee County reported nine deaths between Thursday and Friday evenings - the largest daily increase for any Tampa Bay county since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Sarasota County listed five new deaths; Pinellas reported two; Hillsborough and Polk counties each listed one. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

3 Dead, Dozens Hospitalized After COVID-19 Spreads Through Seminole Nursing Home

Three people who were evacuated from a nursing home in Seminole have died from COVID-19, according to the medical examiner's office in Pinellas County. The patients, an 84-year-old woman, 74-year-old man and 66-year-old man were among dozens of people who were evacuated after the virus spread through the nursing home.

The remainder of Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation's 39 residents were being evacuated on Friday and the nursing home was being shut down, according to the Tampa Bay Times

Twenty-one residents and six employees at the nursing home tested positive for the disease, the Times reported. 

The patients, along with others who were considered at risk, were transferred to 3 area hospitals at the request of the nursing home, Assistant County Administrator Lourdes Benedict said in an email.

Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation is part of Freedom Square of Seminole, a sprawling retirement community that offers varying levels of care from assisted living to memory care and skilled nursing. [Read more]

-- Julio Ochoa and Dylan Rudolph

DeSantis: Florida Needs Plan For Moving Forward, Soon

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he hopes to have a plan by next week to start what he calls “phase two” of the state’s coronavirus response.

He says it could include changes in rules about restaurants, large events and testing for the virus.

DeSantis says there are more options than just keeping everyone home or taking no action against the virus at all—he says another option is more testing and isolating people who’ve come in contact with a coronavirus patient.

He may discuss his plans further during a scheduled 10 a.m. news conference that will be streamed live on wusfnews.org. [Read more]

-- Regan McCarthy, WFSU

Survey Looks At COVID-19's Impact On Tampa Bay Communities

A new survey finds nearly one in four people in the Tampa Bay region have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. The poll from the Tampa Bay Partnership is part of an ongoing project.

Nearly two-thirds of those laid off say they aren't sure if they will find a job with comparable pay when the pandemic ends.The Tampa Bay Partnership surveyed 384 people for its first survey. CEO Rick Homans says a new poll will be released every two weeks. [Read more]

-- Bradley George

Florida Opening 2 Walk-In Test Sites In Underserved Broward County

Florida will open two walk-in coronavirus testing sites in the Fort Lauderdale area to ensure people who can’t get to drive-up locations have a way to get checked.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday the two sites are in predominantly African American communities in Broward County, which has been one of the hardest-hit places by the virus. Many people in such areas rely on public transportation or other means to get around and have difficulty getting to a drive-up testing site.

State Department of Health statistics show that more than 225,000 people have been tested for the virus in Florida. More than 24,000 people in Florida have tested positive, leading to more than 3,500 hospitalizations and 686 deaths.

-- Associated Press

Police Union Requests ‘Pandemic Pay’ For Lakeland Officers

A Florida police union has requested its members be given extra “pandemic pay” for working during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Ledger reports the request was made in a letter Tuesday by the President of West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, Nick Marolda, to Lakeland city officials.

City Manager Tony Delgado says officers were paid extra wages in prior times for putting in more work through emergency situations including tornadoes and hurricanes. Delgado adds it's not clear if the funds refunded by the federal government in those situations would apply to the virus.

City officials have asked Marolda to come up with a proposal for the pandemic pay.

-- Associated Press

Many Treating Coronavirus In Florida Still Lacking Protective Equipment

A new report from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention says at least 9,200 of the nation's health care workers have been infected with COVID-19. Twenty-seven have died.

Most of the health care workers reported that their only contact with the coronavirus was through patients at work.

Officials believe the reported cases may just be a fraction of the actual toll COVID-19 is having on health care workers around the country. [Read more]

-- Daylina Miller, Abe Aboraya and Gerard Albert

Pinellas Beaches Remain Closed

Pinellas County Commissioners did not vote Thursday on easing restrictions to local beaches, but it’s still under consideration.

During a three-hour public meeting, commissioners discussed the plan to ease numerous restrictions -- including access to beaches. The state order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis April 1 does not force municipalities to close beaches, but many counties have to prevent people from gathering in large groups. 

A Zoom presentation laid out to commissioners what needs to happen first. [Read more]

-- Daylina Miller

Duval County Beaches, Parks To Reopen

Meanwhile, Duval city officials announced the beaches and public parks in Jacksonville will reopen today for "essential" recreational activities only in mornings and evenings.

Beaches will be open from 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. They will be closed all other times.

Large group gatherings still won't be permitted, but activities like walking, swimming, fishing and surfing will be allowed. [Read more]

-- Sky Lebron, WJCT

Parents And Teachers Say No To Reopening Schools

Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis floated the idea of possibly reopening some public schools in May.

Florida's statewide teachers' union was quick to urge DeSantis to rethink the opening of schools. Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram said doing so would "threaten the safety and well-being of all on campus."

WUSF asked parents and teachers what they think should be done in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and the response was overwhelming: Don't reopen schools. [Read their comments]

-- Jonah Hinebaugh and Kerry Sheridan

No More Hillsborough Curfew; Face Coverings Not Mandatory

Hillsborough County will no longer be under a curfew.

The Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group on Thursday voted unanimously to rescind the curfew, which had gone into effect Monday night.

Group members also voted down a request by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor to mandate people wear masks in public, and an amendment by County Commissioner Kimberly Overman to require that "essential" businesses that are unable to guarantee a 6-foot distancing requirement from their customers or each other require facial coverings.

They instead asked to make that a recommendation. [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello and Steve Newborn

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