Latest On Coronavirus: Plan To Reopen College Campuses, 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 2 p.m. Friday, May 29, according to the Florida Department of Health:
54,497 - Positive Tests | 2,364 – Deaths
CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida
Hillsborough To Open More Testing Sites
Hillsborough County officials have announced the opening of three more public testing sites for Covid-19.
Gene Early, with the county's department of healthcare services, said they have been working with Suncoast Community Health Centers to partner with the state Department of Health to provide testing in Brandon.
"We believe this solution will provide additional outreach in the Brandon area, to the Hispanic population and others, that might otherwise not be tested," Early told members of the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group.
He added that the county will also open two other mobile testing sites in Wimauma and Sun City. They are expected to be open one to two days a week. [Read more]
-- Steve Newborn
Universal Orlando Hotels Set To Reopen
Universal Orlando plans to reopen its hotels to guests, more than two months after they were closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The hotels will reopen in phases beginning June 2, with a range of best practices and hygiene procedures.
Universal’s resorts include Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort-Surfside Inn and Suites.
Guests staying in the resorts will be allowed entry into the parks on June 3 and 4, before they reopen to the public on June 5.
-- Associated Press
University Students To Return To Campus In Fall
With COVID-19 concerns still pressing on the Fall semester for Florida universities and others nationwide, the Board of Governors approved the State University System’s plans to bring students back to campus.
The system that represents Florida’s 12 public universities proposed precautions that follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing, implementing the use of face coverings and hand sanitizers, and regular disinfection of university facilities. Those who’ve reported traveling to or from virus hotspots with community transmission should be prioritized for testing. [Read more]
-- Fresh Take Florida
Florida Department Of Health Bringing On More Contact Tracers
The Florida Department of Health is bringing on more contact tracers to keep track of COVID-19 cases.
Doctor Shamarial Roberson is the agency’s deputy director. She says the state is hiring an external vendor to supply 600 tracers in the next few weeks.
“Since we are a fully integrated public health system, we can move contact tracers across the state to target the areas of need. So we’ll watch the numbers and based on the cases we have, we’ll assess our needs and we’ll make changes accordingly,” Roberson said.
Dr. Roberson says so far the state has recruited more than 1,500 contact tracers.
Health officials say contact tracing is crucial to slow the spread — and in turn keep economies open.
-- Alexander Gonzalez, WLRN
Pinellas Lifts Rules Regarding Beaches, Pools And Playgrounds
Visitors to Pinellas County beaches are no longer required to practice social distancing.
Public pools and playgrounds will also be allowed to operate at full capacity.
These changes lifted rules that exceed the state’s requirements for safeguarding against the coronavirus pandemic. [Read more]
-- Carl Lisciandrello
Vacation Rentals Allowed In Pasco, Polk
Counties across of Tampa Bay can now operate short-term vacation rentals.
-- Carl Lisciandrello
Fried Argues Cabinet ‘Left In Dark’ During Pandemic
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried asserted Thursday the governor and state Cabinet members should have been jointly coordinating the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thursday’s cabinet meeting was the first in nearly four months.
Fried, who has increasingly locked horns with Gov. Ron DeSantis during the pandemic, appeared in the Cabinet meeting room for Thursday’s meeting, while the other three statewide officials participated remotely.
Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat, has unsuccessfully asked DeSantis to schedule updates for the Cabinet from state agencies, as the virus has killed more than 2,300 Floridians, tax revenues have plummeted, the unemployment rate has soared and people have been frustrated in trying to get unemployment benefits.
“These agenda requests are made in good faith and were not acknowledged, let alone fulfilled. That’s a real shame for everyone who deserves the truth. Floridians expect our government to be united, especially during this time of unprecedented challenges to the state that we all love,” Fried said.
DeSantis didn’t reply to Fried during the teleconference meeting, but Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis jumped in to defend the governor, who has spearheaded the state’s coronavirus-related efforts.
“We will persevere, but we will be stronger and at the same time making sure that we’re looking out for the state’s finances and our taxpayer dollars,” Patronis said.
The teleconference Thursday, which dealt with a wide range of issues such as buying conservation land, was the first time DeSantis and the Cabinet have met since Feb. 4.
-- Tom Urban, WLRN
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