Latest On Coronavirus: Cases Exceed 42,000, DeSantis Wants Sports To Restart, And More
WUSF will be providing the latest news and information on coronavirus in Tampa Bay and across the state. Here are the latest developments:
Here are the latest figures as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 13, according to the Florida Department of Health:
41,236 – Florida Residents | 1,166 – Non-Florida Residents | 1,827 – Deaths
CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida
Florida Cases Exceed 42,000
Florida health officials report 42,402 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state; an increase of 479 since Tuesday.
Sixty-seven of those cases were found in people from the Tampa Bay area.
Statewide, 1,827 people have died due to complications from the coronavirus; an increase of 48 since Tuesday.
The Department of Health confirmed 6 deaths in the Tampa Bay region Wednesday. [Read more]
-- Lisa Peakes
DeSantis: It's Time To Restart Sports In Florida
Gov. Ron DeSantis said it’s time for professional sports teams to play ball again in Florida.
DeSantis, who is still rolling out the first phase of the state’s economic recovery effort amid the coronavirus pandemic, said Wednesday he will lift restrictions so teams would be welcome to train and play games in empty stadiums in Florida.
“We want to have you here. We want to have basketball practicing again,” DeSantis told reporters at the Capitol. “We would love to have Major League Baseball. And I think the message is that our people are starved to have some of this back in their lives. It's an important part of people's lives.” [Read more]
-- News Service of Florida
Florida ER Visits Plummet As Coronavirus Scares Patients From Care
Emergency room visits have dropped by almost 50% across Florida since the pandemic began and hospital officials are warning that patients suffering from heart attacks and strokes are delaying or refusing care because they are afraid of hospitals.
In Broward County, twice as many people were already dead by the time first responders arrived in April, compared to a year earlier.
UF Health Jacksonville recently started public service announcements assuring residents it’s safe to seek treatment after ER visits recently dropped 40%.
Broward Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joshua Lenchus says “people are waiting to come to the hospital until it’s too late and then they die.”
-- Associated Press
Firestone Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg now has a definite scheduled date.
The event, originally set for March 13-15 but canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held Oct. 23-25, officials confirmed on Wednesday.
It will serve as the IndyCar season finale. [Read more]
-- Carl Lisciandrello
Tampa's Pirate Water Taxi Back In Operation
Downtown Tampa’s Pirate Water Taxi will resume operation on Friday with upgrades including a larger vessel that will better allow for social distancing.
The new vessel, Captain Jack II, has doubled its seating and can hold up to 100 passengers, and includes various upgrades. But it will operate with reduced capacity to meet with CDC and local health department guidelines.
The Pirate Water Taxi operates seven days a week and stops along Tampa’s Riverwalk, Channel District, Harbour Island and Davis Islands.
-- Carl Lisciandrello
Limited Reopening For Universal’s Entertainment District
Shuttered for almost two months, Universal Orlando plans to allow the reopening of some restaurants and shops on a limited basis in the theme park resort’s entertainment district this week.
Company officials say about a half-dozen restaurants and eateries, as well as two retail shops and some merchandise carts, will reopen at Universal Orlando Citywalk on Thursday.
It's a sign of the baby steps Orlando’s theme parks are taking to get back to business after they closed in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Next week, Walt Disney World will allow some third-party shops and restaurants in its Disney Springs entertainment district to reopen.
-- Associated Press
MOSI Camp Opening In June
Summer camp is coming up after the end of a very unusual school year. For Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry, it will be in person, but different.
MOSI is offering Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) programming through its summer camps with hands-on experiments, such as building robots and extracting DNA. [Read more]
-- Susan Giles Wantuck
Pinellas Beaches Website Dark On Weekdays
If you're planning to head to a Pinellas beach and want to check the county's dashboard to see how busy it is, you won't be able to see real-time information on weekdays.
While the dashboard won't be active Monday through Friday, the Sheriff's Department is still monitoring crowds and breaking up groups of more than 10 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. It is also providing updates on its Twitter account. [Read more]
-- Susan Giles Wantuck
Florida Unemployment Website To Undergo Maintenance
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Connect unemployment website is normally taken offline every night at 8 p.m. for maintenance.
Tonight, it will be shut down at 6 p.m. so the DEO can make what officials call "system enhancements."
The early closure does not affect individuals filing a new claim, but people with existing accounts will have to wait until 8 a.m. Thursday to check for updates.
Applicants for first-time benefits can still submit 24 hours a day using a recently built Google Form at Florida Jobs dot org.
As of Monday, the Department of Economic Opportunity has paid almost 666,000 claimants a little over $1.7 billion.
-- Mark Schreiner
Florida Continues To Target Price Gougers
New numbers show Floridians have now received nearly half a million dollars in refunds from businesses related to products that had their prices inflated because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney General Ashley Moody's office has contacted over 6,300 businesses about price gouging allegations.
Moody says her office will continue to go after those looking to take advantage of the current situation, so Floridians can continue to protect themselves.
[“We want to make sure these essential commodities like cleaning supplies and protective gear are available to them at a fair price,” Moody said. “So, as long as this COVID-10 emergency is in place, we will keep fighting.”
Those who violate Florida’s price gouging law face penalties of $1,000 per violation, up to $25,000 per day.
-- Tom Urban, WLRN
DeSantis: Schedule Your Elective Surgeries
After lifting a moratorium on elective surgeries in Florida, last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news briefing with surgeons at Lee Health’s Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Monday, encouraging people who may fear seeking medical treatment to schedule their procedures.
DeSantis struck an overall positive tone, noting that the rate of COVID-19 tests in the state coming back positive for the virus has been trending downward. “Today the state of Florida is reporting 405 new cases for Florida residents, but we’ve received about 20,000 test results and that’s about a 2.12% positivity rate,” said DeSantis. [Read more]
-- John Davis, WGCU
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