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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: Deadliest Day Yet In Florida, Pinellas Beaches Reopening, 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 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 28, according to the Florida Department of Health:

31,986 – Florida Residents | 860 – Non-Florida Residents | 1,171 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

NEWSLETTER: Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Deadliest Day Yet In Florida

Despite a downward trend in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, Florida set a new single-day high in deaths on Tuesday, the Florida Deparment of Health reported.   

Between Monday morning and Tuesday morning, 83 people died from COVID-19, the largest single-day increase in the state since the coronavirus outbreak began. The previous high, recorded on April 14, was 72.

So far, 1,171 people have died from COVID-19 in Florida and 32,846 people have tested positive. That includes 708 more positive cases since Monday. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

Pinellas Reopening Beaches And Pools

Beaches and pools in Pinellas County will soon be reopened.

Pinellas County commissioners on Tuesday voted 6-1 to reopen beaches, parking lots and restrooms starting Monday at 7 a.m. following public comment both for and against the idea.

Beaches and pools in Pinellas County will soon be reopened.

Pinellas County commissioners on Tuesday voted 6-1 to reopen beaches, parking lots and restrooms starting Monday at 7 a.m. following public comment both for and against the idea. [Read more]

-- Sue Giles Wantuck, Carl Lisciandrello

St. Pete Pier Grand Opening On Hold

The opening of the St. Pete Pier has been delayed.

The pier was scheduled for a grand opening on May 30, but St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Tuesday he is following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suggestion that large crowds not gather during the month of May.

A new date has yet to be determined, but Kriseman said the wait “won’t be too much longer.” [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Hernando County Reopens Parks

Hernando County park and beach locations will reopen starting Wednesday.

Hernando County commissioners on Tuesday voted to reopen all parks and beaches, including Alfred McKethan/Pine Island Park and the Rogers Park beach area.

Visitors must adhere to social media guidelines, and large gatherings. [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

DeSantis Vows 'Methodical' Reopening

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that reopening the state after coronavirus-caused shutdowns will be “very methodical” and “data-driven,” and some people might think it is too slow.

Appearing at Tampa General Hospital, DeSantis talked of regional reopenings as he tried to temper anticipation about “non-essential” businesses opening their doors again to customers.

“It’s not going to be something that a switch is going to be flipped,” DeSantis said of his month-long stay-at-home order that ends Thursday. [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida

Utility Customers To Get Break On Bills

In what one regulator called a “no-brainer,” customers of four major utilities will get a break on upcoming electric bills as they grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Public Service Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved proposals that will lead to one-time savings in May for customers of Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida and Gulf Power and savings spread over a longer period for customers of Tampa Electric Co.

“This is a truly a no-brainer for me, quite frankly, and I appreciate (the utilities) taking an early initiative to help their customers in such a time of need,” Commissioner Julie Brown said. [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida

Unemployment Website To Undergo Maintenance

Florida’s unemployment website will be unavailable for all but new claims each night as the system undergoes maintenance and the state works on a backlog of claims because of the coronavirus, the Department of Economic Opportunity said Tuesday.

“DEO will be conducting nightly maintenance to the CONNECT (online unemployment) system to process claims and payments faster,” a news release from the department said. “CONNECT will be available from 8 a.m. to 7:59 p.m. daily. This schedule does not affect individuals that wish to file a new claim.”

As of Tuesday morning, the state had received 1.94 million claims since March 15, with 824,412 considered “unique,” as some people have filed duplicate claims.

Of the unique claims, the state had processed 664,158, or 80.6 percent, and made weekly payments of up to $275 to 392,051 people, or 47.6 percent.

About 37 percent of the processed applicants had been deemed ineligible for unemployment compensation. Payments had totaled $523 million.

-- News Service of Florida

State Now Releasing Nursing Home Numbers

The state is now releasing information about the number of patients and staff who have COVID-19 in individual nursing homes.

Last week, the state began releasing the names of long-term care facilities with positive COVID-19 cases. But information about how many cases and deaths at each facility was not provided.

During a press conference at Tampa General Hospital on Monday, reporters pressed Gov. Ron DeSantis for more information.

“So I'm going to look exactly how, what form they are putting it out for everybody and if it's inadequate we're going to address it,” DeSantis said. [Read more]

-- Julio Ochoa

Pinellas Expected To Vote On Beach Openings

Beaches and pools in Pinellas County could reopen soon.

Pinellas County Commissioners are expected to vote this morning at 9:30 on a measure that would reopen beaches for essential activities. These include running, biking and fishing.
 
Visitors would need to follow social distancing guidelines, and not congregate in large crowds. 
 
A similar measure took effect Monday in Sarasota County.
 
-- Carl Lisciandrello
 
DeSantis: Anyone Who Wants A Test Can Get One

State and local officials are trying to get the word out to the public that anyone who wants a coronavirus test can get one now.

They have lifted restrictions on symptoms and travel history that were previously in place to ensure supplies got prioritized for those most in-need.

Speaking at a press conference at Tampa General Hospital on Monday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state has enough supplies to test more people and is continuing to expand capacity. [Read more]

-- Stephanie Colombini

Hillsborough Hotline For Financial Help

Hillsborough County opened up a new hotline on Monday for people who have lost their job or have reduced wages because of coronavirus, and need help paying for their housing and utilities.

The numbers for the Rapid Response Assistance Call Center is (813) 274-3710 or (813) 274-6710. It is open to callers from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The county opened a second number Monday morning due to high call volume. County officials are also asking people to be patient when calling. [Read more]

-- Kerry Sheridan

Schools To  Take Economic Hit

Florida’s economy could take an estimated $859 million hit as a result of school campuses being closed for six weeks during the coronavirus pandemic. 

That's according to a report released Monday by the Florida Council of 100 business group. 
 
A survey commissioned by the organization found that 41 percent of employed parents with minor children said Florida’s school closures or a lack of child care have “somewhat” hurt their ability to fully perform their jobs, while 23 percent of working parents said they had been “greatly” impacted. 
 
Mothers express greater levels of difficulty performing job responsibilities while juggling child care, with 71 percent saying it's either somewhat or greatly hurt their job performance. That's compared with 44 percent of employed fathers. 
 
As DeSantis looks at plans to reopen schools, the Council of 100 recommends that school districts offer teachers more training - and parents more support - over the summer so that they can effectively teach from a distance in case of sporadic outbreaks of the virus next school year. 
 
-- News Service of Florida
 
Census Officials Say Delay Is Necessary

The U.S. Census Bureau is in need of more time to get the results of the 2020 count due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bureau is asking Congress for an additional 120 days to deliver final numbers.

Wilbur Ross, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary, and Steven Dillingham, U.S. Census Bureau Director, said in the statement that though the Bureau is still collecting data online, as well as via phone and mail, they have temporarily suspended field data collection. [Read more]

-- Vanessa Henry

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