Latest On Coronavirus: Florida Records Deadliest Week, DeSantis Defends Elder Care Approach
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 12 p.m. Friday, May 8, according to the Florida Department of Health:
38,172 – Florida Residents | 1,027 – Non-Florida Residents | 1,669 – Deaths
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Florida Records Deadliest Week For COVID-19
More people died this week in Florida from COVID-19 than any other week since the outbreak began.
State records show that between Saturday and Friday, 401 people in the state died after catching the virus.
The previous 7-day high for Florida was 307 in mid April.
It was also a deadly week in the greater Tampa Bay region with 68 deaths across seven counties from Sarasota to Hernando. Thirteen of those deaths were reported on Friday.
So far, 1,669 people have died from COVID-19 in Florida.
A total of 39,199 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Florida, the state reported on Friday. That's 371 more cases than were reported Thursday morning.
New cases in Tampa Bay area counties were all in the single digits. That has not happened since April 23. The region saw an increase of 34 cases Friday. Thursday’s increase was 108. Read more
-- Lisa Peakes
DeSantis Defends Approach To Elder Care Facilities
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced that some coronavirus-infected residents would be pulled from their long-term care facilities and transferred to a skilled nursing center in Jacksonville.
The governor said he is taking the action to better isolate and care for infected patients and to contain the spread the disease.
During a Friday news conference, the governor again defended the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly at elder care facilities.
The DeSantis administration has come under fire over its reluctance to release data that could show the spread of the coronavirus in the state's long-term care facilities. It released the data only after news organizations filed public records requests.
-- Associated Press
Manatee Approves More Funding For COVID-19 Testing
Manatee County commissioners have voted to purchase additional COVID-19 testing kits. The move comes as the county continues to ramp up its testing capacity.
For weeks, Manatee County lagged behind the rest of the state when it came to testing. At the same time, the county was seeing a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases and deaths compared to elsewhere in Florida.
Commissioners had been expressing increased frustration over the lack of available testing kits from the state. They went ahead and authorized spending $200,000 to buy kits from the private market in order to help the county reach its new goal of testing 2 percent of Manatee County residents. [Read more]
-- Cathy Carter
Disney World Restaurant, Entertainment Complex To Reopen
Walt Disney World plans to reopen its restaurant and entertainment area later this month, though the theme parks and hotels will remain closed.
Disney Springs vice president Matt Simon posted Thursday on the official Disney Parks Blog that the area will reopen May 20 with enhanced safety measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Those measures include increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both cast members and guests, limited-contact guest services and additional safety training for cast members.
The post didn’t say which businesses would open first.
Walt Disney World closed in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
-- Associated Press
Lawmakers: Florida Shouldn’t Reopen Without More Testing
Democratic U.S. representatives from Florida are urging Gov. Ron DeSantis not to loosen restrictions meant to stop the spread of the new coronavirus until adequate testing, contact tracing and the ability to isolate sick residents are in place.
The U.S. lawmakers said Friday in a letter to the governor that Floridians would be at risk without those measures in place when businesses that have been closed because of the pandemic start to reopen.
DeSantis partially lifted his “safer at home” order Monday, allowing restaurants and retail shops to begin operating at 25% capacity. Excluded from the reopening plan are three South Florida counties.
-- Associated Press
Website To Provide Real-Time Pinellas Beach Updates
As more folks flock to Pinellas County beaches now that they’re open, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is launching a tool that will help beach-goers plan their day.
A link on the Sheriff’s Office website will list all beaches in the county and alert folks if it is beach is open, reaching capacity, or closed. It will also indicate whether parking is available.
Folks can start checking for updates on Friday at 1 p.m.
-- Carl Lisciandrello
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