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Latest On Coronavirus: Former Commissioner Dies From COVID-19, Dozens Of Facilities Report Cases


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. Sunday, April 19, according to the Florida Department of Health:

25,598 – Florida Residents | 9 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 716 – Non-Florida Residents | 774 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

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Manatee County's First African-American Commissioner Has Died From COVID-19

Former Manatee County Commissioner Gwendolyn Brown has died from complications related to the coronavirus.

Brown, 68, was the county's first African-American commissioner.


Her death was announced to the public on Friday during an emergency meeting of the County Commission held to discuss COVID-19 and Manatee's temporary curfew.

Read more here.

- Cathy Carter

COVID-19 Cases At Over 4 Dozen Tampa Bay Area Care Facilities

More than four dozen long term care facilities in the greater Tampa Bay region have patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Over the weekend, the state of Florida released the names and counties with nursing homes and assisted-living facilities who had patients or employees test positive for Covid-19. That includes 54 facilities in Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota, Hillsborough and Manatee Counties.

WUSF News on Sunday contacted 11 facilities in Pinellas, which accounts for nearly half of the regional locations listed in the state report. All but one declined comment about the specific number of cases or precautions being taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Some said no one was available to speak to a reporter. 

Read more here.

- Susan Giles Wantuck

Florida Schools To Remain Closed Through End of School Year

Public and private schools statewide will continue distance-learning through the end of the school year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Saturday.

At a press briefing in Tallahassee, the governor said he had considered the opinions of parents and teachers, and also looked at the timing of re-opening in May, with just weeks left in the school year.

“Or K-12 schools will continue with distance learning through the end of the school year,” DeSantis said.

“We’ve got pretty good momentum for distance learning. It’s obviously not the ideal situation but given where we are in the school year we felt that was the best decision to go forward.”

On April 10, DeSantis said he was considering the possibility of opening some schools and would issue his decision later.

The Florida teacher’s union, at least four major medical groups and tens of thousands of parents and teachers expressed their opposition to the idea in major petitions on change.org and moveon.org. More here.

- Kerry Sheridan

Florida Releases Names Of Nursing Homes With COVID-19

The state began on Saturday releasing the names of nursing homes and assisted living facilities where there are confirmed cases of COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced.

There were 303 long-term care facilities with positive COVID-19 cases totaling 1,694.  At least 169 of Florida’s 748 deaths from COVID-19 were related to infections at these facilities.

The decision to release the names of the facilities was based on concerns for public health, DeSantis said.

“I told the surgeon general from the beginning that we want to put as much information out as we can,” DeSantis said. “I have now directed him to determine that it is necessary for public health to release the names of facilities.”

Directors of the facilities had been required to notify all staff members, residents and their families when a positive case of COVID-19 was found at a facility, DeSantis said.

“I think they all have done that, but all it takes is if one doesn’t do it,” he said. “I think I would want to know that.”

Florida officials had been refusing to release the information since the start of the outbreak, despite requests to do so and a potential open records lawsuit from the Miami Herald and other media outlets.

In some cases, the information was released by the county or by the nursing homes themselves.

That was the case at a nursing home in Seminole, where three people have died and dozens were hospitalized following an outbreak of COVID-19.

- Julio Ochoa

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I’m the lucky one who guides the WUSF News team as it shares news from across Florida and the 13 amazing counties that we call the greater Tampa Bay region.
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As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.